Las Vegas Site for High-Speed Train Station Once Planned for Casino

Posted on: July 11, 2021, 01:12h. 

Last updated on: July 13, 2021, 01:47h.

A site near the Las Vegas Strip where a high-speed train company plans to build a terminal station was slated years ago for a casino.

Brightline West
This artist’s illustration shows a Brightline high-speed train traveling on an above-ground track. Construction could start in 2022 on a Brightline train linking Southern California to Las Vegas. (Image: Brightline West)

In 2012, Lone Star Funds received approval from Clark County to build a casino, hotel towers, and a convention center at the site, located south of McCarran International Airport, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Much of the Strip, including the proposed train terminal, is in Clark County, outside Las Vegas city limits.

Lone Star, a private equity firm founded by John Grayken, declined to develop the casino project, and recently sold the property to Brightline Holdings, the newspaper reported.

The parcel is west of the Strip, between Warm Springs Road and Windmill Lane. It is near the South Premium Outlets Mall. Brightline purchased the 110-acre lot for $140 million in a deal that closed earlier this month. The company has not released a time line on when the terminal station will be constructed.

The station would be be about four miles from Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. Allegiant Stadium just west of Mandalay Bay, a resort on the west side of the Strip. The station would be about 10 miles from the downtown Las Vegas casino district.

Brightline Holdings CEO Michael Reininger said the company’s land acquisition for a Las Vegas station is evidence of its commitment to the train project. The above-ground train would be the fastest in the nation, traveling at 200 mph.  The rail line would run from the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip to a main terminal 90 miles east of Los Angeles in Apple Valley. Ultimately, separate extension projects would link that terminal to Los Angeles. 

The company planned to begin construction on the site this summer, but has delayed the start date at least until 2022. Company officials said they had difficulty financing the $8 billion project during the coronavirus pandemic.

Traffic Congestion

For much of its length, the proposed high-speed track would follow Interstate 15, the main route for Southern California visitors to Las Vegas. Los Angeles is the closest metropolitan area to Las Vegas, but is still at least four hours away by car. 

Traffic congestion on the drive back to Southern California can create frustrations for motorists and add substantial time to the trip. These traffic jams are partly responsible for Southern Californians cutting back on their visits to Las Vegas. The average yearly visit is down from 2.4 times to 1.7, tourism officials said.

One goal this year for Steve Hill, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s CEO, is to work with the Vegas Chamber on solutions to I-15  traffic congestion problems. The LVCVA board is scheduled Tuesday to decide on a pay raise for Hill, bringing his salary to nearly $400,000.    

I-15 ‘Insufficient’

The high-speed train is seen as one key element in alleviating traffic jams on the interstate. Brightline estimates the train will carry 11 million passengers a year. 

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft recently said I-15 to Southern California “is simply insufficient.” Traffic recently was tied up for miles as visitors returned to Southern California at the end of the July 4 weekend. 

Brightline’s land purchase for a station near the Las Vegas Strip shows the rail company is committed to the project, Naft said.

“It could not come soon enough, as was evident over the July 4 weekend,” he said.