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High-speed train planned for Las Vegas

(The following article by Tatiana Prophet was posted on the Victorville Daily Press on June 5.)

VICTORVILLE, Calif. -- Southern Californians could park their cars in Victorville and be in Vegas in little more than an hour, if a privately funded high-speed train gains momentum.

According to a “work plan” document obtained by the Daily Press, DesertXpress Enterprises Inc. is in talks with federal, state and local agencies about a 200-mile, high-speed train system with stations in Victorville and Las Vegas. According to the documents, the train would have a top speed of 125 mph.

According to a schedule included with the document, the entire governmental and public review process is expected to be completed by January 2008.

Two possible routes are on the table: one to run partly within the median of Interstate 15 and partly parallel to existing railroad tracks, and the other to run parallel to I-15 on the north side.

DesertXpress would run on “new, high-quality double track” with elevated crossings.

Thomas Stone, president of DesertXpress, said he was not ready to comment on the project.

Warren Flatau, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said the agency was beginning an environmental impact statement on DesertXpress, in conjunction with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

“ As required by law, when you do a project of this scope and magnitude, there has to be an environmental impact assessment process,” Flatau said.

The EIS will be led by the FRA, while a state-level environmental impact review will be conducted according to state environmental law.

Areas studied in the assessment include: impact on land use plans for the areas involved; growth projections; community impact; possible relocation of property users in the planned area of the stations; rail ridership; emissions during and after the project; aesthetics; and cultural and paleontological impact.

Public scoping meetings are tentatively set to take place in Victorville, Barstow and Las Vegas at the end of June, according to the document.

Monday, June 5, 2006

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