The money keeps rolling in for Brightline West.

Just over one month after awarding a $3-billion federal grant for the construction the highly-anticipated high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas, the U.S. Department of Transportation has now approved $2.5 billion in private activity bonds for the project.

Brightline West system mapBrightline West

“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 in a news release. “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.” 

That money adds to $1 billion in private activity bonds already authorized to Brightline West, as well as $25 million awarded to San Bernardino County to plan for stations in Hesperia and Apple Valley. Combined, the project has received $6.5 billion in support from the federal government - more than half of the estimated $12 billion price tag.

Initially planned as a 170-mile system running between a station site just south of the Vegas Strip and Apple Valley, the Brightline West system will eventually span 218 miles thanks to the addition  a spur terminating at Rancho Cucamonga. There, passengers would be able to transfer onto Metrolink regional rail trains, providing a more direct path to Los Angeles Union Station (check out images of the station, designed by Grimshaw, in our gallery).

Rendering of proposed Brightline West terminus in Rancho CucamongaGrimshaw

The project, which will run mostly within leased right-of-way parallel to Interstate 15, would allow trains to travel at maximum speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, resulting in an end-to-end trip of approximately two hours and thirty minutes.

The current abundance of federal funding represents a reversal of fortunes for Brightline West, which had twice postponed groundbreakings due to an inability to secure bond financing. The project's backers have announced their intent to open the project before the 2028 Summer Olympics, although studies have previously pointed to a 2026 groundbreaking date, with passenger service beginning in 2030.

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