Legislation provides certainty to rail customers, boosts rural economic development
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) today introduced the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, which would make permanent a critical tax credit used to repair and upgrade short line and regional railroads in Oregon and nationwide.
“Short line and regional railroads provide an essential economic link for small manufacturers and communities in Oregon and across the nation,” said Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. “This legislation will make sure these railroads have the certainty they need to keep every mile of their tracks up and running as they move goods made and grown in our state to factories, grain elevators, mills, and other parts of our economy.”
“Our agriculture communities rely on small business freight railroads to connect their products to markets across the nation and around the globe,” said Crapo. “These are crucial economic corridors that serve our communities across the nation. This measure will allow short line railroads to make long-term plans for infrastructure repairs and upgrades, improving the link between our rural communities and the national freight railroad network.”
Wyden and Crapo’s legislation would make permanent a tax provision used to repair and upgrade short line railroads, which are defined by the Surface Transportation Board as railroads that generate between $36 and $458 million annually that move largely agricultural and manufacturing freight.
Oregon is home to 15 short line and regional railroads, which together make up 1,292 miles of freight track in the state—more than half of all Oregon freight rail lines. These rail lines directly employ hundreds of Oregonians and serve as the crucial link to the dozens of rail-dependent businesses that would not be competitive without rail access.
Wyden and Crapo’s bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).