U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) was honored Aug. 14 with the Railroad Achievement Award by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and GoRail.
AAR says the award is given periodically to members of Congress who have shown leadership on policies that help ensure the vitality of railroads in the United States. The Railroad Achievement Award was launched in May 2017 with Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) jointly recognized as the inaugural award recipients.
The organizers explain that award winners, such as Rep. DeFazio, have particularly shown an understanding of the distinct role railroads play in the American economy and the need for safe and efficient operations made possible through sustained investment.
Rep. DeFazio is the Ranking Member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, a position AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger says allows him to understand the critical role railroads play in the nation’s economy.
“Freight railroads serve almost every industrial, wholesale, retail and resource-based sector of the economy and provide firm footing for the vast majority of passenger and commuter rail in this nation,” said Hamberger. “[Rep. DeFazio’s] leadership was especially evident in passing the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, the first long-term surface transportation bill in a decade, which included several key railroad provisions, such as Amtrak reauthorization.”
Rep. DeFazio is also credited with many state-level rail accomplishments, such as helping secure a grant for the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay to purchase an abandoned rail line, as well as additional funding to rehabilitate the line. His work with the Coos Bay Rail Link earned him a locomotive named in his honor.
In prepared remarks introducing Rep. DeFazio, GoRail’s Nate Kaplan discussed the critical safety enhancements made possible through the FAST Act. Kaplan also pointed to the reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in 2015 and applauded the broad representation of the rail sector at the event, including western rail carriers BNSF Railway and Union Pacific, shortline Genesee & Wyoming, Oregon-based rail suppliers and the host, of Willamette Valley Company (WVCO), a major local employer and international transportation supply and technology company.
“Communities and companies all across America benefit from an innovative freight rail industry that invests more than 40 cents of every revenue dollar back into the nation’s rail network,” said GoRail President Russell McGurk. “Making this possible are sound public policies and elected leaders like Congressman DeFazio with the foresight to enact and protect those policies.”
Rep. DeFazio accepted the award at WVCO’s manufacturing facility and the event was coordinated by the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA).
“Congressman Peter DeFazio has long been a strong advocate of the rail industry, the State of Oregon and especially, Lane County,” added John Murray, vice president of WVCO. “Willamette Valley Company is honored to host this award presentation.”
“It was our pleasure to join our industry counterparts in honoring and thanking Congressman DeFazio for his continued leadership on vital transportation and infrastructure issues,” said David Tennent, executive director & CEO, REMSA. “We look forward to continuing to unite railroads and suppliers to advocate for sound, fact-based policies that will continue to create jobs and growth across the United States.”