FRA to sponsor Los Angeles-Las Vegas maglev study
- Published Tuesday, April 29, 2003, in the Los Angeles Times
High-speed rail gets a boost
U.S. railroad agency to take lead in study of environmental issues
for Ontario-Vegas link.
By Buck Wargo
Inland Valley Voice
ONTARIO -- A high-speed rail project linking Ontario with Anaheim
and Las Vegas got a boost Monday with an endorsement from the
Federal Railroad Administration.
The Federal Railroad Administration, which is part of the Department
of Transportation and develops national rail policy, has agreed to
be the lead agency and federal sponsor for an environmental study
for the 269-mile magnetic levitation train, said Bruce Aguilera,
chairman of the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission.
Promoters of the high-speed train, which can travel at more than 300
mph, said the department's support could pave the way for federal
funding to construct the rail network. Two weeks ago Rep. Don Young
(R-Alaska), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, spoke in
favor of the project during a briefing in Ontario.
The support will be critical as Congress considers a transportation
funding bill that will include as much as $950 million for maglev
construction projects. About $1.3 million is needed for the first
phase of the rail from Las Vegas to the Nevada border town of Primm.
The California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission has already been
awarded $1.5 million in federal funding to begin the environmental
review and design work. Cities and other agencies have contributed
$650,000 for the project undertaken by the government and private
Aguilera said sponsorship by the railroad administration is an
endorsement of the plan and lends credibility to the project.
"We are very pleased that the FRA is interested enough in this
project and that it is moving forward," said Ontario City Manager
Greg Devereaux. "We think this project, should it come to fruition,
will be part of the solution for the regionalization of airports and
air traffic in Southern California."
Ontario officials have touted the rail as a way to encourage Orange
County residents to fly out of Ontario International Airport instead
of Los Angeles International Airport.
The 86-minute Ontario-to-Anaheim route is expected to cost at least
$2 billion, and officials hope to have it open by the end of the
decade. Construction on the Nevada phase could start by 2004 or 2005
and take two years to complete.
The remaining phases wouldn't be completed until 2015 to 2020 if
billions in additional federal funds are granted.
A one-way ticket between Anaheim and Las Vegas would cost about $80.