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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis July 29, 2011
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Western High Speed Rail Alliance to Meet in Las Vegas

Public transportation and municipal leaders from across the nation and the world will gather Nov. 2-4 at Bellagio in Las Vegas for the second annual conference of the Western High Speed Rail Alliance (WHSRA), the only U.S. group working to establish an integrated network of high-speed passenger and freight rail in the Intermountain West.

Formed in 2009 by regional metropolitan transportation and planning organizations in four growing Western states, the WHSRA seeks to develop and promote a high-speed rail network connecting the cities of Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Reno. That network would eventually connect with other proposed high-speed rail lines as part of a national high-speed passenger and freight rail system.

“Our alliance is unique in that our approach to rail planning and development comes with a focus on metropolitan planning and connecting the urban west,” said WHSRA Chairman John M. Inglish, chief executive officer of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City. “The goal of the WHSRA is to advance passenger rail planning and development not just in our region, but as part of a national high-speed rail system.”

Since its formation, the WHSRA has partnered extensively with federal railroad officials and DOT. Working with state officials in Nevada, the alliance helped secure an initial planning grant from the federal government for the high-demand travel triangle among Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

The WHSRA hosted nearly 200 transportation and government leaders, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and APTA President William Millar, at its first conference in October 2010.

This year’s conference, titled “The Rail Ahead: Winning the Future,” will bring together rail advocates, government leaders, and transportation experts from the western region, additional parts of the U.S., and other nations across the globe. The WHSRA also plans to honor Millar, who is retiring from APTA in October, for his years of outstanding service.

“The West is a critical region for the success of high-speed rail development, with an average growth of over 85 percent over the next 25 years,” Inglish said. “We believe that high-speed rail is vital to our economic viability, enabling us to compete better in the global marketplace.”

The founding members of the WHSRA include the Denver Regional Council of Governments; the Maricopa Association of Governments in Phoenix; the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas; the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County in Reno; and UTA.

More information about the conference, including registration, is available online. Register before Aug. 31 to receive $100 off the general admission price of $895.

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