Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
This nation must do a far better job of cleaning up the environment and reversing its dependency on fossil fuel consumption, which contributes to global warming.
One solution is to develop a nationwide network of high-speed rail lines that not only could rival the connectivity of the U.S. interstate highway system, but also could do a far better job of relieving traffic congestion while getting passengers to their destinations faster. Having cleaner air to breathe would be a bonus.
As reporters Lisa Mascaro and Richard Velotta reminded Las Vegas Sun readers Sunday, the city now has two competing high-speed-rail proposals that aim to connect Southern Nevada with Southern California. But only one of them, a magnetic levitation train that can travel up to 300 miles an hour, truly represents the future and can help advance this nation’s transportation system far beyond where it is today.
The downside of the other proposal, for the DesertXpress system, which would employ the antiquated technology of steel wheels on steel tracks, is that it would travel at only half the speed and go only as far as Victorville, Calif.
Proponents of the maglev line, a nonprofit venture that would be overseen by the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission, intend to run their line to Anaheim, Calif. This represents a significant advantage over DesertXpress for many reasons.
One is that Southern Californians traveling to Las Vegas aboard a maglev train would avoid the horrendous traffic that turns the route from the Interstate 10/Interstate 15 interchange to the Cajon Pass into a parking lot. Driving to Victorville, which is nearly 100 congested miles northeast of Los Angeles, would add hours to their commute, increase air pollution and leave motorists frustrated.
Another advantage of maglev is that there are plans to connect the Las Vegas line with a high-speed route running from San Diego to San Francisco and Sacramento. If you live in Las Vegas and want to visit California, you could take the train to those destinations rather than having to rent a car in Victorville to continue your journey.
Finally, the Las Vegas and California links could serve as vital building blocks in the quest for a national high-speed-rail network.
It is for these reasons that we strongly urge the Obama administration and Congress to include the proposed Las Vegas maglev train in the funding mix for the $8 billion in federal money set aside for high-speed-rail development.