“Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and I agreed to jointly work together on the project,” Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons told the newspaper. He argues the train should be a candidate for federal economic stimulus money.The project has another important supporter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada. Jon Summers, a spokesman for Reid, said the project “not only makes good economic sense for the state, it makes sense from an environmental and energy perspective as well.”
Last June, Reid put $45 million in a Senate bill to fund an environmental impact statement for the project. He also asked the Government Accountability Office to prepare a feasibility study for the project, which should be out in the next three months. However, project supporters need to come up with $11.25 million in matching funds to proceed with the environmental impact statement.
Maglev trains ride on a cushion of air because powerful magnets in the track levitate them. Only a handful of commercial maglevs are in operation in China and Japan. A competing proposal calls for a high-speed train from Victorville to Las Vegas operating over conventional track.
But is the project a good candidate for the economic stimulus package now being debated in Washington? President-elect Obama has called for funding of projects that are "shovel-ready." Steve Ellis, a vice president with Taxpayers for Common Sense, a national nonpartisan budget watchdog group, pointed out that the maglev project would take a decade to build; the environmental impact study could take 18 months to two year. He argues that any economic stimulus should yield an immediate benefit.
Also, other technologies are in development that could support trains that run faster, are less expensive to build than maglev and can operate over conventional rail for the last mile to downtown terminals. I hope to be able to tell you about them in coming weeks.