Vegas monorail hearing set for June 8

LAS VEGAS - Proponents and foes of a proposed $639.7 million monorail system will have a chance June 8 to discuss a recent report that says the project is financially feasible.

For nearly a year, the two sides have been feuding over the planned 3.9-mile system along the east side of the Las Vegas Strip.

The June 8 hearing hasbeen scheduled by the state's Department of Business and Industry, which will decide whether to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the project.

The state's decision will be reviewed by the Clark County Commission and forwarded to the state Board of Finance, which will make the final ruling.

The report, which was produced by the Public Resource Advisory Group - the state's financial adviser - says there's reason to believe there will be enough financial resources to start the project and to continue its operation while paying off its bond debt.

But the 53-page report says the project ''has speculative elements and vulnerability to adverse business and economic conditions, which could affect the ability to make timely principal and interest payments on the bonds.''

Although the state resource group's report offers a recommendation favoring the MGM Grand-Bally's monorail, opponents say the battle isn't over.

Jon Twichell, a California-based transportation consultant hired by opponents of the system, said the advisory group never reviewed failing monorails in Jacksonville, Fla., and Seattle.

''They took at face value all the hypothetical numbers put together by the monorail team,'' Twichell said. ''They kind of said there are all these problems but we don't care, you can do it.''

Twichell has insisted that monorail consultants Bob Broadbent and Cam Walker stand to make a lot of money from the project and are pushing it through despite reports that suggest it will fail.

Broadbent and Walker dismissed Twichell's comment and reiterated what their stance has been all along - that the monorail will be a successful system that will benefit the Las Vegas Strip.

The existing free monorail system, stretching 0.7 miles from the MGM Grand to Bally's, would be purchased for $25 million. The new 3.9-mile system would link the MGM Grand with the Sahara with stops at Bally's-Paris, Flamingo Hilton, Harrah's, Imperial Palace, the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton.


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