Palm Desert Approves Feasibility Study for Mid-Valley Stop on Proposed LA-Coachella Valley Train

Palm Desert City Council approves a feasibility study for a mid-valley stop on a proposed daily passenger train from LA to Coachella Valley. The project, part of Brightline West, aims to reduce traffic congestion and provide a more convenient and environmentally friendly alternative for travelers.

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Palm Desert Approves Feasibility Study for Mid-Valley Stop on Proposed LA-Coachella Valley Train

Palm Desert Approves Feasibility Study for Mid-Valley Stop on Proposed LA-Coachella Valley Train

The Palm Desert City Council has given the green light to a feasibility study for a mid-valley stop on a proposed daily passenger train from Los Angeles through the Coachella Valley. The study, submitted to the Riverside County Transportation Commission, estimates a construction cost of $190 million for the Palm Desert station and a total project cost of $1-1.5 billion.

Why this matters: This proposed train route has the potential to significantly reduce traffic congestion on Interstate 10 and provide a more convenient and environmentally friendly alternative for travelers between Southern California and Las Vegas. Moreover, it could also have a positive impact on the regional economy by increasing accessibility and connectivity between cities and towns in Riverside County.

The proposed train route is part of the Brightline West project, a privately run high-speed rail route currently under construction to link the Las Vegas Valley and Rancho Cucamonga in the Greater Los Angeles area. The project aims to provide an alternative to air and automobile travel between Southern California and Las Vegas, a popular leisure destination.

Construction on the Brightline West project began on April 22, 2024, with revenue service planned to start in 2028. The project was initially developed starting in 2005 as DesertXpress and has passed through several developers and investors. In September 2018, the project was acquired by Fortress Investment Group, which owns Brightline in Florida.

The proposed train will use existing stations in LA, Fullerton, Riverside, and Palm Springs, with new stations planned in Loma Linda/Redlands, San Gorgonio Pass, mid-valley, Indio, and Coachella. The Palm Desert study envisions a "transit hub" just east of Cook Street, near Acrisure Arena and Cal State University San Bernardino's campus. Safe, easy, and affordable parking is considered a must for the project.

Indio and Coachella are also exploring their own rail feasibility studies. Indio passed a study in 2020 examining a multimodal transportation hub along Indio Boulevard, while Coachella is considering three sites along the railroad tracks.

The train is expected to provide several benefits to the region. It will offer a convenient and faster alternative to driving on Interstate 10, which can be prone to traffic congestion. The train will also make county resources more accessible to underserved areas like Blythe and help unify Riverside County, the fourth-largest county in California and the 10th largest in the country.

Looking ahead, a potential Riverside County ballot measure allowing for up to a 1% sales tax increase for transportation projects could be on the ballot this fall. Local politicians will need to provide answers on how to move the rail project forward. The United States Department of Transportation awarded Brightline West a $3 billion grant in December 2023 as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the company received $2.5 billion of private activity bonds from the US Department of Transportation in January 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • Palm Desert City Council approves feasibility study for mid-valley train stop.
  • Estimated construction cost: $190 million; total project cost: $1-1.5 billion.
  • Proposed train route aims to reduce I-10 traffic congestion and promote eco-friendly travel.
  • Train will connect LA to Coachella Valley, with stops in Palm Springs, Indio, and Coachella.
  • Project received $3 billion grant and $2.5 billion in private activity bonds.