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Los Angeles Las Vegas Rail Hoping for HSR Funding

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The various proposals to establish or re-establish train service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles still seem to be stuck in their respective stations. Ever since Senator Harry Reid withdrew support for the Maglev train concept, the 4 or 5 different proposals have not been able to fulfill their promise of connecting the two major metro areas. The Desert Express derided by some as the train to nowhere is still hoping to connect Las Vegas with Victorville albeit without a clear funding source. The other proposals such as the two conventional rail proposals, X train and Z train and the high speed option Genesis High Speed Rail have run into funding and/or permission to run over Union Pacific tracks. Amtrak has no immediate plans to reinstate rail.

A new funding source could help Nevada, the lead of the effort, California, Arizona and Colorado start to build a new rail system, courtesy of Florida Governor Rick Scott who refused the governments offer of $2.4 billion to build a high speed line between Tampa and Orlando. Scott refused the offer because he believed the state could not afford the long term maintenance costs. The funds sought would be to start a system that would connect Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The proposal for a western rail network, is being developed by the Las Vegas-based Western High Speed Rail Alliance.The alliance http://www.whsra.com/ operates within the Nevada transportation department.

"Nevada’s proposal will be competing with several states that are further along in their development of high-speed rail systems, including California, Wisconsin and New Mexico. Amtrak’s bid to further develop its Northeast Corridor routes will be considered, as well as proposals from Washington, D.C., New York and Massachusetts.

The funding request does not involve the DesertXpress high-speed rail plan to connect Las Vegas with Victorville, Calif., which is being developed privately. DesertXpress has a federal loan application pending to finance the $6 billion project.

The Western High Speed Rail Alliance has asked lawmakers to change current law that prevents qualified consortiums of metropolitan planning organizations, local transportation authorities and local governments to apply directly for federal intercity high-speed rail funding. Until that happens, the organization is working under the umbrella of the Nevada Transportation Department.

The alliance sent letters to key House and Senate committee leaders saying “that permitting MPOs and other entities with substantial transportation planning experience to apply directly for federal high speed rail funds would incentivize cooperation among regions, advance the intensity of high speed rail planning in the U.S., and provide for ‘last mile’ corridors within our jurisdictions that connect to other modes of transportation.” Vegas Inc. April 6 www.vegasinc.com.

Los Angeles, as the western terminus for this system would see an increase in both passengers and trains. LA and California residents would benefit from a high speed rail network that would tie in to the LA - SF high speed rail line. Maybe this new plan can make some headway?

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