The notion of building a bullet train through the desert from California to Las Vegas — so hot a few years ago that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became the kingmaker of which of two projects might win U.S. funding — may have progressed from zombie status to very dead.
The Federal Railroad Administration, in a filing today in the Federal Register, withdrew a notice of intent to do an environmental assessment for a magnetic levitation line from Anaheim, California, to Las Vegas, saying there’s been no movement on the proposal in five years.
That follows the Department of Transportation’s decision in June to kill an application for a $5 billion loan for the competing effort by XpressWest, majority-owned by Las Vegas casino developer Tony Marnell. The loan would have been by far the largest done for railroad assistance.
Reid initially backed the maglev proposal until switching alliances in 2009 out of frustration with delays in getting it going. The switch sparked sniping between Reid and then-Nevada Gov.Jim Gibbons, with Gibbons’ spokesman telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal at the time that Reid was doing the equivalent of backing a covered wagon in a NASCAR race.
XpressWest’s application ran smack into the political fallout over the bankruptcy of U.S. loan recipient Solyndra LLC.
Ray LaHood, in one of his final acts as transportation secretary, killed the XpressWest application after Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republicans on the House and Senate budget committees, raised objections and asked the General Accountability Office to investigate.
XpressWest, and Reid, have vowed to press on.