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April 18, 2019

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Harry Reid hopeful DesertXpress gets support from next governor

Officials outline federal loan guarantees company will pursue

Reid and LaHood talk trains

Steve Marcus

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, left, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Tom Skancke, president and CEO of The Skancke Company, a transportation consulting company, hold a news conference at UNLV Wednesday, October 13, 2010. LaHood and Reid announced specifics of a federal loan guarantee program for a public-private partnership to expedite development of the DesertXpress high-speed rail system between Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif.

Reid and LaHood talk trains

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood speaks during a news conference at UNLV Wednesday, October 13, 2010. With LaHood are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Tom Skancke, president and CEO of The Skancke Company, a transportation consulting company. LaHood and Reid announced specifics of a federal loan guarantee program for a public-private partnership to expedite development of the DesertXpress high-speed rail system between Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif. Launch slideshow »

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that he would meet with Nevada’s new governor after the Nov. 2 election to convince transportation leaders to support the DesertXpress high-speed rail project.

“I think they (the state) better join the team and work on something that is doable,” Reid said in an interview after a press conference at which he and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave specifics about federal loan guarantees that would be pursued by DesertXpress Enterprises.

DesertXpress is a $4 billion, 200-mile traditional high-speed rail proposal that would link Las Vegas with Victorville, Calif. Backers have said they would work quickly to build a 50-mile line between Victorville and Palmdale, Calif., to tie into California’s planned high-speed rail network.

“I think at this stage we’ll wait until the elections are over and I’ll see who I have to talk to,” Reid said.

It’s possible that conversation could happen at a family reunion.

Reid and his son are locked in high-profile election campaigns, with Harry Reid battling Republican challenger Sharron Angle and his son, Rory Reid, battling Republican Brian Sandoval in the governor’s race.

Harry Reid was joined at UNLV by LaHood and transportation consultant Tom Skancke to explain that DesertXpress has been invited to seek federal loan guarantees through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program.

DesertXpress representatives didn’t attend the event, which occurred hours before the first of two public hearings on a supplemental environmental impact statement on the project that could be the first link in a national high-speed rail network.

Reid, LaHood and Skancke each invoked President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vision of an interstate highway system in the 1950s, calling a high-speed rail network “the interstate highway system of the 21st century.”

Locked in a fierce election campaign against Angle, Reid emphasized that the DesertXpress project would create more than 30,000 jobs for Nevadans with a payroll of more than $2 billion. Tuesday, Reid participated in a similar announcement for A-Power Energy Generation Systems, Shanyang, China, and Asia New Energy, Singapore, which is building an LED light manufacturing plant providing more than 1,000 jobs in Henderson.

UNLV economics professor Thomas Carroll prepared the report that said the DesertXpress project would produce an estimated 17,469 primary jobs and 16,432 secondary jobs in Clark County over three years by 2013. In addition, the study said the rail line would produce 28,384 primary jobs and 26,699 secondary jobs in San Bernardino County, Calif.

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