High-speed rail project will create thousands of jobs and provide an efficient way to travel between Southern California and Las Vegas
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced the approval of $2.5 billion in private activity bonds authority allocated for the Brightline West High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail project connecting Las Vegas, Nevada, and Southern California. The 218-mile, high-speed rail line will primarily run along the I-15 median with trains capable of reaching 186 mph or more, cutting the trip to two hours – half the time to travel by car. Brightline West’s $12 billion high-speed rail project will be a fully electric, zero-emission system to become one of the greenest forms of transportation in the U.S. The project will bolster tourism, create 35,000 good-paying jobs, ease traffic on I-15, and cut more than 400,000 tons of carbon pollution each year.
“Today, the Biden-Harris administration takes the next step to fulfill the promise of high-speed rail in the American West, with $2.5 billion in private activity bond authority to lay tracks, create jobs, and connect American cities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “President Biden’s historic infrastructure package gives us the opportunity to build safe, green, and accessible rail systems that will deliver benefits to the American people for generations to come.”
“Building a high speed rail corridor from Las Vegas to Southern California will drive economic investment and opportunity across the region,” said U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “Residents and visitors alike will benefit from access to a fast and sustainable travel option that better connects key cities.”
DOT previously approved a private activity bond allocation of $1 billion for Brightline West in 2020, bringing the total allocation for this project to $3.5 billion. In December, DOT also awarded a $3 billion grant from President Biden’s infrastructure law to the Nevada Department of Transportation for this project. In June, DOT awarded a $25 million grant to San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Program that will be used for the construction of the Brightline West stations in Hesperia and Victor Valley, California.
“As the first true high-speed rail system in America, Brightline West will serve as the blueprint for connecting cities with fast, eco-friendly passenger rail throughout the country,” said Brightline Founder and Chairman Wes Edens. “Connecting Las Vegas and Southern California will provide wide-spread public benefits to both states, creating thousands of jobs and jumpstarting a new level of economic competitiveness for the region. We appreciate the confidence placed in us by DOT and are ready to get to work.”
To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced nearly $31 billion in unprecedented investments for our nation’s rail system, the most significant investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. Including the new Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) program grants and Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants announced last year, President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda is laying the foundation for a safe and modern rail network.
The Secretary of Transportation is authorized by Congress to allocate up to $30 billion in private activity bond (PABs) authority through the Build America Bureau for qualified surface transportation facilities. The allocations provide privately financed projects with access to tax-exempt bonds lowering their cost of capital and increasing private sector involvement in the delivery of transportation projects. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed in November 2021 doubled the available private activity bond authority from $15 billion to $30 billion.
The Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau advances investment in transportation infrastructure by lending Federal funds to qualified borrowers; clearing roadblocks for credit worthy projects; and encouraging best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and operations. The Bureau draws on expertise across DOT to serve as the point of coordination for states, municipalities, private partners, and other project sponsors seeking Federal financing.