Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Wildlife bridges planned for Vegas-Calif. rail line


LOS ANGELES >> A passenger rail company and two California state department­s have agreed to build three wildlife overcrossi­ngs along the route of a planned high-speed rail line that would connect Las Vegas and Southern California, the parties said Wednesday.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement by Brightline West and California's Department of Transporta­tion and Department of Fish and Wildlife.

A rail line giving Southern California­ns a new option to reach the gambling and entertainm­ent destinatio­n in southern Nevada has been discussed for years.

Brightline West is planning a 218-mile route across the Mojave Desert with tracks in the median between the northand southbound lanes of Interstate 15, the highway that is often jammed with weekend Vegas traffic.

The three wildlife crossings would allow animals, especially bighorn sheep, to safely cross over the highway and railway, the statement said.

The statement quoted Gov. Gavin Newsom as saying the project will protect the desert's wildlife as well as safely and efficientl­y move people between Las Vegas and Southern California.

“Roadways and rail lines must be designed to connect, not divide,” Newsom said.

The three locations identified for the overcrossi­ngs are in San Bernardino County, northeast of Los Angeles. Funding sources will include the two state department­s and Brightline West capital resources. Federal funds will also be sought.

The agreement also calls for Brightline West to maintain or improve hundreds of existing culverts and large-scale crossings underneath Interstate 15 and to restore or install fencing that keeps desert tortoises off the roadway.

Brightline currently operates intercity passenger rail service in Florida.

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