Donalds Reintroduces Legislation To Secure Disaster Relief For Short Line Railroads As Hurricane Season 2023 Begins

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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Seminole Gulf Railway

WASHINGTON – [Last week] Representative Byron Donalds (R-FL) reintroduced H.R. 3782 – The Short Line Railroad Relief Act alongside Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Mike Bost (R-IL), Mary Miller (R-IL), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Brad Finstad (R-MN), Chuck Edwards (R-NC), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Troy Nehls (R-TX). This legislation authorizes the establishment of a disaster relief program to provide much-needed immediate financial assistance to our nation’s short line railroads.   

“Just months ago, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, causing historic devastation in our community,” said Congressman Byron Donalds. “Among one of the hardest hit entities in Southwest Florida was the Seminole Gulf Railway–which incurred catastrophic damage. 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. 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 line railroads are responsible for transporting a variety of goods across the country, and without support from Congress, many are forced to close shop after a natural disaster because of inadequate federal relief,” said Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Troy E. Nehls. “These small businesses must receive the support they need to stay afloat and keep our country moving after a natural disaster. I am proud to join my colleague, Congressman Byron Donalds, to provide much-needed relief for our nation’s short line railroads.”

“Americans have come to realize just how fragile our supply chains are. Short line railroads help save small businesses money and keep our supply chain moving,” said Congressman Mike Bost. “But when disaster unfortunately strikes, federal programs have failed to provide timely assistance to affected businesses. I’m proud to support the Short Live Railroad Relief Act to establish a permanent disaster relief program for short line railroads and protect our supply chain.”

“The past couple years have demonstrated how devastating supply chain interruptions can be,” said Congressman Don Bacon. “I support the Short Line Railroad Relief Act to ensure that short line railroads, which primarily support small businesses and local economies, are protected in the case of natural disasters. We need to keep goods and services moving!”

“In the event of a natural disaster, short line railroads can play a critical recovery role, moving relief goods in and debris of all kinds out, yet no significant federal disaster relief options are available to them beyond small loans,” stated Chuck Baker, President, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. “The Short Line Railroad Relief Act 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. Representative Donalds was spurred into action by the devastation to the Seminole Gulf Railway in his district, caused by Hurricane Ian last year. The concern however is applicable nationwide, resulting in Congressional support throughout the country for this effort. We applaud each of the cosponsoring members of Congress for their leadership.”

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