A Brightline train sits at the station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, California has approved a $600 million private activity bond allocation for construction of the $5 billion Virgin Trains-Brightline railway that within four years could be whisking passengers from Las Vegas to a (distant) Los Angeles suburb at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour.
Approved unanimously in Sacramento on Tuesday by a committee overseen by California Treasurer Fiona Ma, Virgin Trains-Brightline can sell up to four times the allocation amount, raising as much as $2.4 billion for the project. The company, which operates the Brightline rail service in South Florida, is also awaiting word on a $200 million private activity bond allocation from Nevada that would raise an additional $800 million. The U.S. Department of Transportation last month provisionally awarded the project $1 billion of private activity bonds, raising potential funding for the 180-mile-long project to $4.2 billion. That’s just $800 million shy of the railway’s $5 billion construction tab.
“West Coast, we’re coming for you,” Brightline tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “Today, we were officially approved for tax-exempt bonds for our privately funded rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California. This means on track to break ground by end of this year.”