Las Vegas high speed project postponed because of inability to sell bonds

California treasurer says bond sale for Brightline West will be postponed until market improves
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Work on the proposed Brightline West high speed rail project to Las Vegas will be postponed because parent Fortress Investment Group was unable to sell bonds to fund the project.
Brightline West

Just days after launching a website with construction details of the rebranded project, Fortress Investment Group is postponing plans for its Las Vegas-to-Southern California high speed rail project after failing to sell bonds to provide financing.

Bloomberg reports the effort to sell $2.4 billion in debt to be financed through agencies in California and Nevada — reduced from original plans for a $3.2 billion sale, has been “postponed until market liquidity improves,” according to an email from California Treasurer Fiona Ma. Brightline spokesman Ben Porritt confirmed the postponement but told Bloomberg in an email that the company “will continue to move the project forward.”

California had given Fortress until Dec. 1 to sell the bonds; the bond capacity will now be returned to the state and used for other projects, such as affordable housing. Ma said she did not know when Fortress would return to request bonds again, saying that would be the subject of discussions with the company over the next several weeks.

Last week, the project launched a new website announcing the rebranding of the project — previously known as Xpress West — as Brightline West, and outlining plans to construct the rail line in six segments, with work to begin later this year on two segments [see “Las Vegas high speed project, rebranded Brightline West, reveals details on construction plans,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 26, 2020].

The project was first revealed in 2006. At one time, Chinese interests were involved [see “XpressWest partners with Chinese firm to develop Las Vegas high speed rail,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 17, 2015] but that agreement was terminated less than a year later. Brightline acquired XpressWest in 2018 [see “Brightline eyes Las Vegas-LA,” News Wire, Sept. 18, 2018] and reached a key agreement on right-of-way earlier this year [see “Las Vegas high speed project reaches agreement to build along I-15,” News Wire, June 30, 2020].

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