High-speed rail project waiting on $5.5 billion government loan
The nation’s first privately funded high-speed rail line, which would connect Las Vegas with Southern California, remains in a holding pattern, awaiting a decision on a federal government loan, a representative of the company said today.
Andrew Mack, chief operating officer of XpressWest, told the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors that his company is still awaiting word on approval of a $5.5 billion loan.
The $6.9 billion train project would link Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif., and, eventually, downtown Los Angeles via Palmdale, Calif.
The Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan, overseen by the Federal Railroad Administration, is critical to the XpressWest project. Mack said most RRIF loan applications take an average 19 months to complete. XpressWest filed for the loan in December 2010.
Mack attributed the lengthy wait to the complexity of the project and the amount of due diligence the FRA must complete to approve the loan.
Once the loan is approved, it will take about a year to begin construction and five years to complete the project, Mack said. Because most of the rail line would be built within the Interstate 15 right-of-way, the construction period would serve as “five years of advertising that the train is coming” to motorists who drive between Southern California and Las Vegas, he said.
Mack’s update to the LVCVA board took top billing at today’s meeting after a presentation on a proposed multimillion-dollar improvement project for the Las Vegas Convention Center was postponed.
Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the LVCVA, was scheduled to provide details about that project today. But an LVCVA spokeswoman said Ralenkotter is ill and is critical to the presentation, so the matter was removed from today’s agenda.
Last month, Ralenkotter outlined plans to refurbish the Convention Center, build a World Trade Center facility on the campus and turn a parking lot at the center into a multimodal transportation center.
Officials said the presentation is now tentatively planned for a special meeting on Feb. 26.
“This isn’t a renovation project,” LVCVA board member Charles Bowling said. “It’s securing our future.”
LVCVA officials have said the upgrade is critical to Las Vegas maintaining its 18-year hold on hosting the most major conventions and trade shows in the United States.