REMSA Member HiRAIL Hosts Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Rod Blum
LISBON, IA - On October 12, 2018, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Congressman Rod Blum (R-Iowa) joined the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA) and its member HiRAIL at their manufacturing plant in Lisbon, Iowa, where the company makes premium rubber level crossing systems for the rail industry. Senator Grassley and Congressman Blum gave remarks and took questions from the audience before embarking on a tour of the facility led by HiRAIL President Eric Schook. The group discussed extending the short line tax credit and eliminating burdensome regulations on businesses. REMSA and the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC) coordinated the event.
Currently the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley is in line to become Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in 2019 when the 116th Congress is sworn in. The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over all tax matters and will help decide the fate of the short line tax credit, which supports short line railroads to maintain nearly 50,000 miles of track. He previously led that committee when the tax credit was first introduced into law in 2004. "I was chairman of the Finance Committee when this was approved, so obviously I want to see it continue," Senator Grassley said at the event.
Congressman Blum similarly expressed support for the tax credit, which he said would provide certainty for short lines that want to make investments in upgrades. The Congressman is a cosponsor of the Building Rail Access for the Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, legislation that would make the short line tax credit permanent. First elected to Congress in 2014, Blum serves on both the House Small Business Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
After a question and answer session, Senator Grassley and Congressman Blum toured HiRAIL's state-of-the-art, 40,000 square foot facility and learned about their exclusive manufacturing process, which produces durable rubber panels resulting in superior railroad crossings. The company utilizes recycled rubber from old vehicle tires that would otherwise be destined for a landfill. Their rubber crossing surfaces do not crumble like asphalt, or spall like concrete. With proper handling, they can be removed and reinstalled to perform track and trackbed maintenance. To date, HiRAIL has sold more than 6,000 grade crossing systems to freight, transit and industrial rail customers.
Also in attendance were: Matt Bell, Executive Vice President, NRC; Nick Burwell, Manager of Public Projects, Canadian National Railway; Jacob Carter, Government Affairs Manager, REMSA; Barbara Grassley, Wife of Senator Grassley; Tim Marshall, TNT Railroad Contractors; Tammy Marshall, TNT Railroad Contractors; Connie Meier, City Administrator, City of Lisbon; Dennis Miller, Vice Chairman of the Board, Iowa Interstate Railroad; Barb Morris, Assistant Vice President, Bankers Trust Cedar Rapids; Beryl O'Connor, Mayor, City of Lisbon; Jim Overfelt, Director of Sales, HiRAIL; Reg Stearns, President, Trackmasters; Todd Wishman, Market President, Bankers Trust Cedar Rapids.
In Iowa, 15 freight railroads operate and maintain over 3,820 miles of track, employing more than 3,745 people.
The Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA) is a non-profit membership-based organization located in Washington, DC that represents and promotes companies and individuals who manufacture or sell products and/or services in the railroad maintenance-of-way (MOW) industry. Our $5 billion MOW industry supports over 35,000 jobs nationwide. www.remsa.org.
Government Affairs Manager
The Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association
410 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Photo for signing of Entchem (S.Korean Distributor)
July 2017 –“ HiRAIL enters into an agreement with South Korean firm Entchem to represent HiRAIL Products in South Korea. Entchem personnel include former national rail and construction companies. They are well connected, competent and we believe they will help us open the doors in South Korea – said HiRAIL President, Eric Schook.
Successful installation of emergency access crossing panels for Waterloo LightRail – May, 2017
For the new Lightrail System in Waterloo, Canada, near Ontario, project engineers came to HiRAIL to provide crossing solutions for special challenges. The goals were to have special panels that:
- Served as a good surface for emergency egress from trains or the station platform
- Enabled the embedding of TWC (Train to Wayside Communication) Systems – This meant no metal parts could be used for reinforcing
- Could be fit into the special narrow area of the Gauntlet Rail (Where 4 rails are in a small gauge area allowing for different types of rail vehicle traffic)
Only one company could support this application – HiRAIL. Concrete could not be used due to the metal rebar reinforcements, or to fit in the area provided.
HiRAIL was able to fulfill all application requirements and the customers are very satisfied!
Rep. Blum tours HiRAIL Corp.
Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
Left to right, Sean Winkler, REMSA grassroots coordinator, Rep. Blum and Eric Schook, president of HiRAIL.
More than 20 Class 1 and shortline railroad representatives, local officials and other industry stakeholders joined HiRAIL Corporation Aug. 18 for a tour of its facility and discussion with Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA).
The Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA) coordinated the event at HiRAIL's Lisbon, Iowa facility.
The tour was led by Eric Schook, president of HiRAIL, and highlighted the company's rubber grade-crossing systems, which are manufactured on site using recycled rubber from vehicle tires that otherwise would be destined for a landfill.
"We are honored to host Congressman Blum and demonstrate our commitment to environmentally-friendly products and manufacturing here in Iowa," said Schook. "Our business and local communities rely on consistent freight and transit investments and grade-crossing safety programs to grow our local economy and protect our families. It is critical we highlight these pressing issues to our policy makers in Washington."
Rep. Blum focused his remarks on encouraging economic development in Eastern Iowa, ensuring awareness and safety at rail-highway grade crossings and the need for a strong, efficient and safe freight rail system to connect Iowa's agriculture producers to the global market.
"A strong and efficient railroad is crucial for Iowa farmers and agricultural producers in getting their goods to market," said Rep. Blum. "I look forward to working with companies like HiRAIL to continue to create manufacturing jobs and promoting grade crossing safety here in Iowa."
The rail stakeholder group highlighted Rep. Blum's support for increased funding for the Section 130 Railway-Highway Crossing Program, as part of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The Section 130 funds are used for the elimination of hazards at railway-highway crossings on state roads, while Iowa's Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Surface Repair Fund supports similar improvements on local roads. The group also discussed the recent bipartisan and bicameral introduction of the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, which would make the Short Line Tax Credit permanent. This effort will allow the nation's small, local freight railroads to increase their reinvestments to upgrade and expand the "first and last mile" of their transportation infrastructure. The bill has garnered 180 bi-partisan cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. Blum.