For years, there has been talk of a high-speed railway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. President Obama planned on making high-speed rail a signature part of his presidency, yet despite efforts, projects have been stalled and delayed and really nothing has gotten done. Much of that has to do with GOP obstruction throughout his tenure with Congress killing or filibustering progress at most opportunities. There has been some funding, but most of that has been diverted to keep the Amtrack lines running instead of making any serious progress on the newer technologies.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that finally some real progress is being made and the high-speed system is finally going to be built — not in the distant future, but construction will begin in 2016.
So what changed? Did funding finally get put in place by the Congress? Is some benevolent corporation ponying up the dough?
Enter the Chinese. The Chinese have built the world’s biggest and best high speed rail system, and now with their economy slowing, they are looking to expand — to America.
As the Los Angeles Times reports;
Officials for XpressWest, which has been unable to secure adequate private investors in the United States or a $5.5-billion federal loan, announced that it had formed a partnership with China Railway International USA, a consortium led by China Railway, the national railroad of the People’s Republic of China.
Details about the joint venture, the proposed project and its financing were unavailable Thursday, except China Railway International stated that it would provide initial capital of $100 million. Project officials say they are confident construction could begin as early as September 2016.
XpressWest, a private company formerly called DesertXpress, has been talking about its high-speed rail project since at least 2007. Plans have called for a 185-mile route that would run adjacent to heavily-traveled Interstate 15 from Las Vegas to Victorville, 85 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Chinese officials now describe the project as a 230-mile route with an additional stop in Palmdale and eventual service throughout the Los Angeles area using some of the same track that would be used by the publicly backed California high-speed rail project.
Federal railroad records indicate that XpressWest has already secured approvals and permits from a number of federal agencies for the 185-mile route. Additional permits, approvals and environmental analysis would be needed for the 230-mile proposal.
“As China’s first high-speed railway project in the United States, the project will be a landmark in overseas investment for the Chinese railway sector and serve as a model of international cooperation,” Yang Zhongmin, chairman of China Railway International, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
While America bickers over everything, the Chinese are stepping in and getting it done — in OUR house. Will this be a wake-up call to Congress to finally get off their butts and provide real funding to these and other infrastructure projects?
Below is a chart for our alleged program. As one can plainly see, most of the projects are merely maintaining existing lines and the rest is vaguely “laying foundation” for projects. Then there are the gray lines on the map — the projects that are for the “distant future.” Apparently China sees the future as now — while we bicker as partisans who are hellbent on now allowing the other guys to have any politial “victories.”
This project isn’t something that eluded or snuck up on our people. In fact, people have been trying to do this for almost two decades now. Check out this report from 2012 on the very same project that we failed to fund …
Now check out how the Chinese got it done;