Brightline West has decided not to seek state-based private activity bonds in 2021 to help finance construction of its high speed rail project connecting Las Vegas and Southern California.
Last year, parent company Fortress Investment Group had been marketing $2.4 billion of debt to be issued through California and Nevada agencies, but failed to sell the bonds to support its $8.4 billion project. The Brightline West website had pegged year-end 2020 as a potential start date for building the 135-mile California line and 34-mile Nevada line.
A Brightline representative told Railway Age in November 2020: “I’ll confirm that we postponed our bond sale but we will continue to move our project forward. Our work continues.”
The representative added: “We will continue this project; this does not stop us but rather causes us to shift our funding goals until the market improves. We will continue the project and focus on raising equity.”
Brightline has now told Railway Age that the bond request will move to 2022.
“The Brightline West team has made significant progress during the past year as California and Nevada dealt with the historic pandemic,” Brightline Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs Ben Porritt said in a statement released to Railway Age. “We are working with a number of partners and have great support in Nevada and California. COVID has impacted just about everyone, including our cooperating agencies, and as a result we’ve shifted our timeline for this request to 2022. Private activity bonds are a great way to enable private sector investment to modernize America’s passenger rail infrastructure at both the federal and state level, and we expect they will play a meaningful role in the success of this project.”
As for a new potential construction start date, another Brightline spokesperson told Railway Age: I’m happy to keep you updated as we have additional information on project/construction timeline.”