Las Vegas — President Biden on Friday is announcing $8.2 billion in new funding for 10 passenger rail projects nationwide, representing the largest federal investment in passenger rail transportation since Amtrak was created in 1971.
Mr. Biden's trip to Nevada was originally planned to highlight the $3 billion federal investment in the high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to the greater Los Angeles area. But after the mass shooting Wednesday at the, that resulted in the deaths of three people, his stop there will take a more somber note.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president will address the shooting in a speech to Las Vegas union members Friday, but it's not clear whether the president will visit the campus, which is just a few miles away.
The $3 billion in new federal funding for the Las Vegas-Los Angeles rail line is about a third of the total projected cost of the new Brightline West train line, which is projected to be finished before the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. The company touts the train on its website as the "first true high-speed passenger rail system in the nation."
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters the rail line is expected to carry 11 million passengers at its peak, and the total trip will take about two hours — which is about half the time it takes to drive.
Other passenger rail projects that will receive funding include a Los Angeles-San Francisco train that will reach 220 miles per hour, a rail expansion between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, and other upgrades in Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana and other states.
There is a years-long lag time between the projects' funding and their completion. But Biden administration officials hope the president's spotlight — and resulting union jobs from the construction — will help boost public support for Mr. Biden's economic policies. Alast month found Americans believe their finances would be better off if former President Trump were elected over Mr. Biden in 2024.
Administration officials are hoping the funding for public transport upgrades will rub off on voters before next year's election.
"If you've even seen the standard of passenger rail service in Japan, or Germany or for that matter Spain or Italy, and come home, and say, 'why can't we have these nice things,' this is the beginning of the answer to that," Buttigieg said.
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