Wildlife bridges planned on Vegas-California rail line
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A passenger rail company and two California state departments have agreed to build three wildlife crossings along the route of a planned high-speed rail line connecting Las Vegas and Southern California, the parties said Wednesday.
The agreement is stated in a joint statement Brightline West and the California Department of Transportation and Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Rail line gives Southern Californians new access to southern Nevada’s gambling and entertainment destinations discussed for years.
Brightline West plans to build a 218-mile route through the Mojave Desert with lanes between the northbound and southbound lanes of the often congested Interstate 15 weekend traffic in vegas.
The three wildlife crossings will allow the animals, especially the bighorn sheep, to cross the highway and railway safely, the statement said.
The statement quoted Gov. Gavin Newsom as saying the project would protect desert wildlife and move people safely and efficiently between Las Vegas and Southern California.
“Roads and rail lines should be designed to connect, not separate,” Newsom said.
The three locations identified for the intersections are in San Bernardino County, northeast of Los Angeles. Funding sources will include two state departments and equity from Brightline West. Federal funds will also be sought.
The agreement also calls for Brightline West to maintain or improve hundreds of existing culverts and overpasses under Interstate 15, as well as restore or install fencing that keeps desert tortoises out of the roadway.
Brightline currently operates intercity passenger rail service in Florida.
Its line serving Las Vegas will not extend to Los Angeles. The plan calls for stations in the high desert towns of Hesperia and Apple Valley, as well as in Rancho Cucamonga, home to a station on the Southern California Metrolink rail system.
Highways and other infrastructure pose a threat to wildlife in Southern California. Major wildlife bridge over US 101 is being built west of Los Angeles to allow mountain lions and other animals to move between fragmented habitats.
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