Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
It was 20 years ago when local planners started envisioning not only improvements to U.S. 95 and that highway’s interchange with Interstate 15, but also the building of the Desert Inn Super Arterial and the Las Vegas Beltway.
Today we take those and other vital improvements that began with planning in the late 1980s so much for granted that it seems they were always there.
As reported Monday by the Las Vegas Sun’s Richard N. Velotta, local and regional transportation planners are now envisioning the next big improvement — an interstate rail system that could be operational 20 years from now.
Las Vegas, Reno, Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix could all be linked by high-speed train service.
It is a cinch that customers of that service in the 2030s would eventually take that mode of transportation for granted, and come to subconsciously believe, because of its convenience and the need for it, that it was always there.
The planners include Jacob Snow, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. He is working with transportation planners in Utah, Colorado and Arizona. They call their newly ratified partnership the Western High-Speed Rail Alliance.
Their alliance follows the logic contained last year in a study produced by the Brookings Institution. The Washington-based think tank encouraged the states of our Intermountain West Region to cooperate on projects that would benefit all of them.
A high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas with the major cities in those states would certainly have mutual benefits, an increase in tourism among them. Interstate transportation is insufficient in the growing Southwest and Interstate Mountain regions and the timing is right to address that issue.
President Barack Obama supports high-speed rail and there are two proposals — we support the one that would use maglev technology — for a high-speed rail line connecting Las Vegas with Southern California, a prospect that could turn Las Vegas into a rail transportation hub.
The Western High-Speed Rail Alliance has the potential to significantly change our region’s future for the better.