Will California–Las Vegas High Speed Line Construction Start in 2Q21?

Written by Oliver Cuenca, News and Features Writer, International Railway Journal
Brightline West plans to resume the sale of private activity bonds to fund its 168-mile California–Las Vegas high speed project, which it could receive from the federal government, or from the state governments of California and Nevada.

Brightline West plans to resume the sale of private activity bonds to fund its 168-mile California–Las Vegas high speed project, which it could receive from the federal government, or from the state governments of California and Nevada.

Brightline West hopes to begin construction of its $8.4 billion, 168-mile California–Las Vegas high speed line in the second quarter of 2021.

The new start date was confirmed by Sarah Watterson, President of Brightline West, in a letter to the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority, according to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal

In the letter, Watterson confirmed that the company plans to resume the sale of private activity bonds to fund the project, which it could receive from the federal government, or from the state governments of California and Nevada. 

Work on the project was originally scheduled to begin at the end of 2020, but was delayed due to Brightline’s failure to source buyers for $2.4 billion of private bonds. The bonds, approved for the project by the states of California ($600 million) and Nevada ($200 million), were later repurposed to support affordable housing projects in the two states.  

In her letter, Watterson cited “the uncertainty of the elections, the lack of approval of a COVID-19 vaccine and the lack of liquidity in the market” as factors behind the previous lack of demand which “did not allow us to price the bonds in such a way that they offer the company long-term stability.” 

However, Watterson says that the successful sale of a $950 million tax-free bond issue by Brightline Florida in December 2020 has given the company confidence that market conditions and demand are improving. 

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