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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Florida's Donalds again proposes disaster relief fund for short lines


U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) has reintroduced a bill that would authorize the creation of a fund to assist short lines impacted by hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The proposed Short Line Railroad Relief Act (H.R. 3782) calls for a financial assistance program to be set for short lines like the Seminole Gulf Railway, which incurred catastrophic damage when Hurricane Ian struck Florida’s southwest coast last year, according to a press release issued by Donalds' office.

"When a storm of this magnitude hits any area of our nation, it is the federal government's responsibility to make available the necessary resources to rebuild and restore vital components of a community," said Donalds, who introduced a similar bill last year. "As hurricane season 2023 begins, it is imperative that we establish a means in which America's short line railroads can receive critical relief in the event of natural disasters."

Short lines play a critical role in helping communities recover when natural disasters hit, but currently there’s no significant federal disaster relief options for short lines beyond small loans, said American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association President Chuck Baker.

Donalds’ bill would "provide parity across transportation modes, allowing for immediate deployment of grant funding to short line railroads, enabling them to turn their attention to rebuilding the local economy, particularly crucial in the small town and rural communities that we serve," Baker said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/5/2023