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Joe Biden

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Biden administration pledges $6 billion to a pair of high-speed electric rail routes in the US West

The Biden administration on Tuesday said it will give more than $6 billion to a pair of high-speed electric rail routes in the U.S. West, injecting new life into long-stalled projects hailed by supporters as the future of public transportation but bemoaned by critics for their high price tags and lengthy construction times. U.S. senators from California and Nevada said the federal government will give $3 billion for a planned privately-owned route between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area plus another $3.1 billion for an initial segment of California’s publicly-funded effort to eventually connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. The money is a fraction of the total cost to build the routes. But it signals the Biden administration’s commitment to high-speed rail, a mode of transportation commonplace in Europe and Asia but bypassed in the U.S. and its car-obsessed culture. “The federal government is back on building high speed rail in America,” said Brian Kelly, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority that is overseeing the public project. “This award is just a great leap forward.” In 2008, California voters gave their blessing for a 500-mile (805-kilometer) project that promised to carry passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in under three hours on a fully-electric train traveling at speeds of up to 220 mph (354 kph). At the time, the project was projected to cost about $30 billion and be up and running by 2020. If running today, it would be the nation’s fastest train service by far. But more than a decade later, the price has ballooned to more than $100 billion, of which only about $25 billion in funding has been identified by state officials. Today, officials are focusing on a 171-mile (190-kilometer) stretch that would connect the cities of Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield that would not open until 2033 at the latest. Those three cities are in California’s Central Valley, which has some of the worst air quality in the country. The $3.1 billion would go exclusively toward work on that segment. Kelly, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the new federal money will help close a funding gap of about $10 billion for the Central Valley route. He said the authority will look for more money in the future from both the federal and state governments. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called the funding “a vote of confidence” and said it comes “at a critical turning point” for the project. Funding for the project has been on a rollercoaster in recent years, with former President Donald Trump trying to revoke $1 billion in federal money first granted by the Obama administration. Then state lawmakers, including Democrats, tried to block Gov. Gavin Newsom from releasing more than $4 billion in voter-approved bond money due to concerns about the project’s viability. Both pots of money have since been made avail The route between Las Vegas and Los Angeles has been talked about for decades, and Nevada U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen told reporters the project now has all required right-of-way and environmental approvals, along with labor agreements, for work to start on some 218 miles (351 kilometers) along the Interstate 15 corridor. No date was announced for work to start. But Rosen said electric-powered trains could be carrying passengers by the time Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympics in 2028. “We’re ready to get to work,” Wes Edens, founder and chairman of Florida-based Brightline, said in a statement ahead of a Friday event in Las Vegas that may coincide with a visit by President Joe Biden. Rosen and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, both Democrats, led a bipartisan group including all of Nevada’s elected federal lawmakers and four House members from California that in April urged Biden to commit up to $3.75 billion in federal infrastructure funds toward what they call a public-private partnership. Planners say trains carrying passengers at nearly 200 mph (322 kph) could cut in half a four-hour freeway trip from a station in Las Vegas through Victorville, California, to a suburban Los Angeles light rail line in the San Bernardino County city of Rancho Cucamonga. They say the service could help alleviate weekend or end-of-holiday travel traffic jams that often stretch for 15 miles (24 kilometers) on I-15 near the Nevada-California line. “Connecting Las Vegas and Southern California by high-speed rail will create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs, boost our Southern Nevada tourism economy, and finally help us cut down on I-15 traffic,” Cortez Masto said Tuesday in a statement. Calls for a high-speed rail line whisking tourists through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas date at least to 2001, said U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat who represents the Las Vegas Strip. The proposal had starts, stops and various names over the years, before getting sidetracked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida-based Brightline Holdings LLC, which built the only privately-owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the U.S., is expected to model the Las Vegas line on service it began in 2014 on Florida’s east coast. That route now links Miami and Orlando with trains reaching speeds up to 125 mph. https://apnews.com/article/bullet-train-vegas-los-angeles-brightline-funding-8ee203c4acc17a1f320f534418532725

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  • Grace Njeri

    11 w

    Promising move.

    • Jane Wangui

      17 w

      Bidens administration is doing a very good job.Great move.

      4
      • Grace Njeri

        11 w

        @jane_wangui They should continue walking the talk.

      • We Don't Have Time

        18 w

        Dear johnte ndeto Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to Joe Biden by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

        1
        • Jengaj John

          18 w

          Incredible one

          5
          • Ann Nyambura

            18 w

            Electrification reduces reliance on fossil fuels, contributing to cleaner air and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

            3
            • Princess

              18 w

              @ann_nyambura_542 Exactly, electrification plays a crucial role in diminishing our dependence on fossil fuels

              2
            • Elizabeth Gathigia

              18 w

              Amazing news

              3
            • walter lungayi

              18 w

              This is a significant investment in sustainable transportation infrastructure that will help reduce carbon emissions and promote economic growth in the US West.

              4
              • Princess

                18 w

                @walter_lungayi Indeed, the significant investment in sustainable transportation infrastructure is a positive step.

                2
              • Munene Mugambi

                18 w

                I'd like to see this project start work before the next US elections if Biden is serious on making it successful and on time.

                5
                • Princess

                  18 w

                  @munene_mugambi if President Biden is serious about its success, initiating the work before the next US elections would demonstrate a commitment to timely and effective implementation, aligning actions with intentions.

                  2
                • Gorffly mokua

                  18 w

                  it's an encouraging step towards creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

                  6
                  • Princess

                    18 w

                    @gorffly_mokua This initiative has the potential to enhance connectivity, reduce emissions, and contribute to a more environmentally friendly future.

                    2
                  • CHRIS NGATIA

                    18 w

                    Great move 👍

                    5
                    • Princess

                      18 w

                      @chris_ngatia Absolutely! It's a commendable step forward in fostering sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. 👍

                      2
                    • rosebellendiritu

                      18 w

                      We need to revive all sectors that are geared towards promoting green energy

                      5
                      • Princess

                        18 w

                        @rosebellendiritu We must bring back and support industries that promote clean energy.

                        2
                      • George Kariuki

                        18 w

                        Great news! This investment will inject new life into long-stalled projects and send a strong signal of support for this environmentally friendly and efficient mode of travel.

                        12
                        • Princess

                          18 w

                          @george_kariuki Absolutely, the investment is excellent news!

                          2
                        • Princess

                          18 w

                          Fantastic move.!

                          12
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