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December 1, 2022

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Harry Reid on high-speed rail project: ‘It’s not over yet’


Courtesy of XpressWest

An artist’s rendering of a train on the XpressWest high-speed rail line.

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Click to enlarge photo

Anthony A. Marnell II is a key figure in the development of XpressWest, the high-speed rail system planned between Las Vegas and Southern California. Marnell is chairman and CEO of the Marnell Companies, a partner in the train project.

Sen. Harry Reid will be doing some shuttle diplomacy with the White House next week to get things moving on a suspended federal loan application for the XpressWest high-speed rail project.

“It’s not over yet,” Reid told Nevada reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Reid insisted that White House officials have no hang-ups about green-lighting the project on principle but are concerned that backer Tony Marnell hasn’t met all the required financial obligations.

Marnell, who has put up $1.5 billion from private investors, is seeking a $5.5 billion federal loan for the train between Las Vegas and Southern California.

“Marnell had trouble raising private capital,” Reid said, adding the White House was concerned there was “not enough domestic manufacturing” in the original XpressWest plan.

The United States has strict provisions requiring Department of Transportation projects be “built with American-made products.”

But the United States isn’t a very big player in the high-speed rail market yet. Most designers and manufacturers of the tracks and cars are in Europe and Asia.

The lay of the market, however, isn’t enough to override the law of the land.

“We will not permit such considerations to override our Buy America priorities,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote in a letter to Marnell late last month. “The not justify departure from our Buy America rules.”

Despite the setback, Reid was confident that the White House would do everything possible to try to help the project succeed.

“This is very important to the president,” Reid said. “High-speed rail is important, and this is about all he’s got now.”

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