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Two members of Congress this week toured railroad facilities and talked about extending the short-line tax credit: U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) visited Brown Industries' facility in Lawrence, Kan.; and U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) visited the R. J. Corman Railroad Co.'s Cleveland Line railroad, along with the short-line railroad operator's Material Sales Dover Yard in Ohio.
Brown, a member of the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC), manufactures HyRail maintenance-of-way equipment in Lawrence, with a satellite plant in Henderson, Colo. Jenkins walked through the facility, where Brown builds track inspectors, heavy duty track inspectors, material handlers and custom-rail equipment, according to an NRC press release.Accompanying Jenkins on her tour were several Brown executives, including David Price, chief executive officer; Dane Jennison, president; Stuart Seeger, director of rail; and Brett Agnew, plant manager. Also attending the tour were Ryan McCune, president of ASM Engineering Consultants; Mike Murphy, business development leader at Bartlett & West; Kate Webb, controller at Coreslab Structures; Jerry Darnaby, insurance broker, Cretcher Heartland; Lindsey Douglas director of Northern Region public affairs, Union Pacific; Diane Stoddard, Lawrence's assistant city manager; Lee Modesitt, Jenkins' district representative; and Lindsey Collins, vice president of grassroots advocacy at the NRC.The attendees thanked Jenkins for her leadership regarding an extension of the 45G tax credit, which provides a tax credit of 50 cents for every dollar spent on track improvements. Jenkins introduced the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2015, also known as H.R. 721, in February. The bill would extend 45G, which expired at the end of 2014.Jenkins told the gathering at Brown that she would continue to champion their cause through her work."Small businesses like Brown Industries, and so many others in the rail industry world, are part of the lifeblood of Kansas and American economies," she said in a prepared statement. "I will continue to fight to ensure that these rail industry businesses have the opportunities they need to grow and compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace."
Meanwhile, Gibbs on Monday toured the R. J. Corman facilities. The Cleveland Line (RJCL) is a 55-mile short line between Warwick and Uhrichsville, Ohio. The line interchanges with the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway, according to a press release.The RJCL also includes the Wooster Line that interchanges with NS. RJCL hauls corn, corn oil, sunflower oil, pulpboard, railroad materials, plastic, steel pipe, chemicals, scrap metal, and sand. The tour began at the Dover Yard, where the group discussed R. J. Corman Material Sales business, RJCL’s current operation, as well as upgrades to the RJCL line that were made possible by the 45G tax credit. The upgrades included installation of 8,000 new wood ties this year."It was a pleasure meeting the employees and seeing up-close the importance of rail to our national transportation infrastructure," said Gibbs, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "That is why I cosponsored H.R. 721 which extends a tax credit that is vital to the strength of the short line railroad industry."
R. J. Corman officials who visited with Gibbs on the tour included Laura McNichol, assistant vice president, specialty marketing; Assistant VP Brian Miller; Assistant General Manager John Philips; and Division Manager Scott Weaver. Bill Newsome, superintendent at the Dover Yard, also was in attendance. Several RJCL customers also attended the tour, including Doug McKenzie of Dover Chemical, Susan Grasse of Pepsi/Frito Lay, and Steve DePietro and Dave DePietro of RSL Railroad.
Also in attendance were Stark County Commissioner Richard Regula; Ashley Bosch on behalf of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; and Michael Gaynor, assistant VP of field operations, GoRail.