Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Maglev Is Dead... Long Live Maglev?

Last week, Maglev was officially declared dead. "Luv Guv Gibbons" blamed Harry Reid for killing it, but didn't mention that he never submitted an application for federal stimulus funds to really jump start the Las Vegas to Anaheim (Orange County) super high-speed rail line. Meanwhile, Harry Reid and all the other still relevant Nevada politicians had already shifted support to Sig Rogich's DesertXpress conventional (but still fairly fast) Las Vegas to Victorville line (with plans now underway to connect it to the California High Speed Rail line in Palmdale, 50 miles north of Los Angeles). We were all ready to move along and see what happens next for DesertXpress...

And then this happens!

Backers of a proposed magnetic levitation train that would ferry passengers between the Los Angeles area and Las Vegas announced Monday that a $7 billion loan from China hinges on the U.S. government's support for the project.

The announcement comes on the heels of maglev officials learning they were deemed ineligible for any of the $8 billion doled out Thursday for high-speed rail systems across the country.

Although maglev officials strongly disagree with the government's decision, spokesman Mark Fierro said that at this point, the government's hard cash is not as crucial as its support.

The Export-Import Bank of China is willing to lend the money with the knowledge that if the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission is unable to pay it back, federal officials will.

"This funding from the bank in China was never contingent on this round of federal funding," said Fierro, adding that the agreement was sealed in November. "They're willing to put up $7 billion, and that is a game changer. This is absolutely enormous."

It seems out of nowhere, Export-Import Bank of China has suddenly put the feds on notice, thrown Nevada's and California's high-speed rail plans into limbo, breathed new life into what was just last week declared DOA, and messed with what Sig Rogich must have thought was a perfectly executed plan to clear the way for DesertXpress.

In short, Maglev is back.

So now, we must ask... For how long?

Do the feds want to take Export-Import up on its offer? Will Harry Reid reconsider returning support to Maglev? Does this mean Jim Gibbons will actually be vindicated for his last-minute conversion to Maglev?

And what the hell do we do now with our high-speed rail plans?

Honestly, I had given up on Maglev months ago. It just seemed like the Maglev Commission was whistling in the wind while Rogich was doing all the political heavy lifting for DesertXpress. Last week's announcement of federal stimulus funds for high-speed rail seemed to seal the deal...

But I guess it didn't. So what do we do now?

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