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U.S. Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and U.S. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) last week introduced legislation aimed at advancing a plan to launch high-speed rail service between Las Vegas and Southern California. Known as the Mojave National Preserve Boundary Adjustment Act of 2016, the bill promotes an efficient and cost effective route for the proposed XpressWest rail project by transferring 520 acres of the Mojave National Preserve from the National Park Service to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. This adjustment is necessary to facilitate construction of the preferred route for the rail project, according to a press release issued by Heller's office.The National Parks Service doesn't have a clear process to allow for the development of infrastructure, while the Bureau of Land Management has a process that's more efficient, the release said."This simple land transfer between two federal agencies will allow the XpressWest project to pursue the most economically efficient route," Heck said. "This direct route through the Mohave Natural Preserve is preferred by all parties because it avoids unnecessary impacts on wildlife and habitat and eliminates the need to dig expensive tunnels and take a less direct route."The XpressWest route would run along Interstate 15 between Victorville, Calif., and Las Vegas at speeds in excess of 150 mph, with trains leaving every 20 minutes during peak travel times, according to the project's website. The train technology and systems would be fully interoperable with California's planned high-speed rail system, allowing for future service into Los Angeles and Burbank, Calif."We need an 'all of the above' approach when it comes to addressing our transportation needs and enhancing tourism opportunities for Las Vegas," Heller said. "The XpressWest rail project will promote economic development and significantly boost tourism to Nevada, benefiting our state for years to come."XpressWest and China Railway International USA Co. Ltd. announced in September 2015 that they have formed a joint venture to develop the high-speed route.
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