(Bloomberg) -- The proposed $12 billion high-speed rail project backed by Fortress Investment Group connecting Las Vegas to Southern California has won a $3 billion federal grant from the bipartisan infrastructure law.
The money will come from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant to help build the 218-mile (350 kilometers), all-electric high-speed rail service. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021, allocates $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastructure spending.
The Fortress company behind the rail line, Brightline Holdings, says once built, it will shuttle passengers from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga in California in just 2 hours and 10 minutes, twice as fast as the normal drive time. Brightline already has operations in Florida, where it built the country’s first new privately financed intercity passenger rail in a century connecting Orlando to West Palm Beach and to Miami.
“Bringing high-speed rail to Southern Nevada just makes sense, given the tens of millions of visitors we have each year,” Nevada’s US Senator Cortez Masto said in a statement Tuesday.
Brightline West, if it reaches the 180 miles per hour as envisioned, would be the first high-speed service in the US Amtrak’s 457-mile Acela service on the East Coast tops out at 150 miles per hour and is variously labeled high-speed or “higher-speed.”
The company says it hopes to break ground in early 2024 with construction to take about 4 years.
“This is a historic moment that will serve as a foundation for a new industry, and a remarkable project that will serve as the blueprint for how we can repeat this model throughout the country,” said Fortress co-founder Wes Edens in a statement.
The project has been in the works for years. In 2020, Fortress failed to sell $3.2 billion in municipal debt for the speculative venture as investors balked. The bond issue would have financed construction for a 169-mile line connecting Las Vegas to a desert town called Apple Valley, 90 miles away from downtown Los Angeles. Fortress has since moved its proposed California terminus closer to Los Angeles.
Read more: Fortress’s Vegas Rail Must Lure Passengers in Car Country
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