March 03,2015

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Wyden and Crapo Introduce Bill to Spur Investment in Short Line Railroads

Bipartisan Bill Would Provide Certainty to Railroads, Boost Rural Economic Development

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, today introduced the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2015. They were joined by Senators Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., John Boozman, R-Ark., Bob Casey, D-Penn., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. This bill will extend the short line railroad track maintenance tax credit that expired in 2014.

“Small railroads provide a critical service to communities and businesses across Oregon, and this bill means continued investment in important infrastructure,” said Wyden. “The short line rail credit empowers railroads to make investments in the first and last mile of what is often a transcontinental journey for goods destined for factories, grain elevators, mills, and other vital parts of the economy in Oregon and across the country.”

“This measure will allow small businesses in Idaho to reinvest more of the revenue they earn and allows these railroads to provide customers such as potato growers and timber producers in Idaho with safe, customized and competitive local rail service,” said Crapo. “Short lines provide a critical economic link to thousands of railroad customers in Idaho and 48 other states, and this bill will help spur job creation and improve the link between our communities and the national freight railroad network.”

The short line railroad track maintenance credit provides short line and regional railroads a 50 percent tax credit for railroad track maintenance expenses, up to $3,500 per mile of track owned or leased by the railroad.  This credit has been crucial in helping to rehabilitate short line and regional railroads around the country, including the miraculous turn-around of the Port of Coos Bay Rail Link in Oregon. These short line railroads serve as a lifeline to many Oregon manufacturers, ensuring that their products can get to market in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This important provision expired at the end of 2014. 

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 some 260 Oregonians and serve as the crucial link to the dozens of rail-dependent businesses that would not be competitive without rail access.

Senator Wyden is carrying on the work of Senator Rockefeller as the lead Democratic cosponsor of the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act, which would extend the tax credit for two years and provide certainty for railroads to make investments. This bill was one of the most popular pieces of legislation in the 113th Congress, with 51 cosponsors and broad support across Congress.