Michael Lyle

(Nevada Current) As a federal grant application seeking $3.75 billion in funding for a proposed high-speed rail connecting Southern Nevada to Southern California remains in flux – and if secured would only fund a portion of the $12 billion project – U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen is urging the Department of Transportation to process the proposal.

Rosen is scheduled to hold a press conference Friday with Brightline West, which would construct the project, along with the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Vegas Chamber to discuss the status of the current iteration of a rail system to California.

“The next critical step is getting federal funding delivered, which is why I’ve been pushing the Department of Transportation to process Nevada’s application as soon as possible,” Rosen said in a statement.

Even if the federal grant is approved and the money is allocated, another 70% of private financing would still need to be secured to complete the project.

Ben Porritt​, a spokesman with Brightline, said the remaining funds would come through a combination of debt and private equity. He said Brightline is having “active financial conversations” about private financing but wouldn’t elaborate on specifics.

He wouldn’t comment on what would happen if the project doesn’t secure federal dollars.

Over the years, Nevada policymakers have proposed and backed multiple plans to construct a high-speed train between California and Las Vegas without success.

Rosen said the $1.2 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 could help provide “historic funding for rail projects like this one.”

The project seeks funding from the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant, which is authorized by the bipartisan infrastructure bill and provides capital funding for rail services projects.

Rosen, along with Nevada’s congressional delegation, signed onto a letter in April to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to support the request for funding.

“This unprecedented funding opportunity for intercity high-speed rail will unleash private investment at a critical moment for our nation, demonstrating the potential for public-private partnerships and planting a flag for American high-speed rail,” the letter wrote.

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, who voted against the infrastructure bill, also signed on to the letter supporting grant money to fund the project.

His office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In the letter, congressional representatives from Nevada and California wrote that Brightline estimates the project could create more than “35,000 construction jobs and approximately 1,000 permanent jobs.”

The project, when completed, is estimated to “remove 3 million cars from Interstate-15 annually” and reduce more than 400,000 tons of carbon emissions each year.

Additionally, Rosen said in a statement the rail system would “be a game changer for our state.”

“It will boost our economy by bringing more visitors who spend money in our state – which helps create good-paying jobs, generate millions of economic activity, and contribute to the success of our small businesses,” Rosen said.

While plans are still tentative, the estimated time frame is for the train to be operational by 2028.

Stations are planned in Las Vegas and San Bernardino County “with connectivity into Los Angeles County through Metrolink,” according to the letter.