U.S. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) visited RailWorks Track Systems and other transportation stakeholders June 18 for a tour if the company’s facility and transportation policy discussion.
The event was held at RailWorks Track Systems’ Deer Park facility, officials said. The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC), the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA) and grassroots advocacy organization GoRail coordinated the event, officials said.
Bob Rolf, P.E., vice president and general manager for RailWorks Track Systems, led the tour.
“RailWorks is honored to host Rep. Weber,” said Kevin Riddett, CEO of Railworks Corp., and a member of the NRC Board of Directors. “RailWorks has grown to one of the largest rail maintenance and construction companies in Texas and throughout North America. We have invested heavily in the economic growth locally in Texas and look forward to continuing to support investment across the U.S. and Canada in modernizing all types of railway infrastructure.”
RailWorks employs 240 in Texas at its Deer Park, Beaumont and Dallas-Fort Worth facilities and also employs thousands more throughout the U.S., the company said. In Texas, 52 freight railroads maintain 10,539 track miles and employ 16,826 individuals.
RailWorks employees and transportation stakeholders discussed the regional importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Weber. In Texas, the NRC notes that as the top export state in the country, “NAFTA is especially vital to jobs and the economy.”
Data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests that nearly 1 million Texas-based jobs would be put at risk by withdrawing from NAFTA. A recent study conducted by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) also revealed that 42 percent of rail carloads and intermodal units and 50,000 rail jobs depend on international trade, according to an NRC statement.
The group thanked Weber for his support, having co-sponsored the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, which is set to enable the nation’s small, local freight railroads to increase their reinvestments to upgrade and grow the “first and last mile” of transportation infrastructure.
Attendees discussed the private nature of America’s freight railroad network, as well, which, unlike other modes of freight transportation, does not rely on federal support for the growth or maintenance of its network.
“We’re honored to host Rep. Weber and provide a first-hand look at the important role RailWorks plays in supporting the 140,000-mile rail network, from track inspections to emergency repairs to track rehabilitation,” said Jay Gowan, RailWorks’ senior vice president. “Our work is enabled by private spending from freight rail companies, so it was a great opportunity to connect with a policymaker and ask him to oppose policies that would jeopardize railroads’ ability to invest.”
Rep. Weber was elected to Congress in 2012 after serving four years in the Texas State House. He serves on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.
Rep. Weber also holds a leadership role on the Science, Space, and Technology (SST) committee, serving as the chairman of the Energy Subcommittee. For more than 60 years, Weber has resided on the Gulf Coast.
“Railroads are a critical part of the greater transportation network that supports our entire economy. Texas absolutely knows the importance of our railways. We have over 10,000 miles of freight track – that’s more than any other state,” Rep. Weber said. “Rail infrastructure like this – and the many supply companies, like RailWorks, who support it – moves Texas’ economy forward. Starting at the points of energy production and manufacturing and traveling to the Port of Houston and other distribution centers across the state, goods are being moved on our impressive rail network.”