Texas Representative Kay Granger, the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, received the Railroad Achievement Award last week in recognition of her continued leadership on policies that help ensure the health of the U.S. railroad network. Privately funded freight railroads have invested $25 billion annually into the network in recent years, crucial spending that hinges on sound public policy.
Rep. Granger, who saw the BNSF national dispatching center and spoke to employees of the Fort Worth-based company, is the first member of the U.S. House of Representatives to receive the award in 2019, created in 2017 and presented by the Association of American Railroads and GoRail.
“We thank Congresswoman Granger for her leadership and thoughtful approach to the issues facing our industry,” said Carl Ice, president and CEO, BNSF Railway. “Her tireless support of infrastructure improvements, such as Tower 55, enhances the U.S. supply chain by improving rail traffic flow through this region and providing economic opportunity for Fort Worth.”
AAR president and CEO Ian Jefferies, joined by GoRail President Russell McGurk, presented Rep. Granger with the award in front of BNSF employees.
“Representative Granger is a proven leader in Washington with a keen ability to advance widely supported bills through the Appropriations Committee,” said Jefferies. “The freight rail industry, which also provides the infrastructure for most U.S. passenger railroad routes, is particularly grateful to Rep. Granger for supporting public-private partnerships, fighting for spending programs that help improve highway-rail grade crossings and advancing appropriations packages devoid of troublesome policy riders that sidetrack legislative progress.”
The Railroad Achievement Award is given to members of Congress who have shown leadership on policies that directly and indirectly affect railroads – including highway policy. Award winners like Rep. Granger understand the distinct role railroads play in the American economy in serving nearly every industrial, wholesale, retail and resource-based sector of the economy, Jefferies noted in the award presentation. He highlighted a few particularly important policies, such as:
Ensuring robust investments in important discretionary grant programs that fund transformative rail and multimodal projects to expand our freight transportation network, including $1 billion for BUILD grants, $1 billion for INFRA grants, and $350 million for CRISI grants in the FY 2020 House bill. Providing essential resources to improve safety at highway-railway grade crossings, including $245 million for the Section 130 Highway-Railway Grade Crossing program, $10 million for a high visibility enforcement paid media campaign regarding highway-railway grade crossing safety, and $50 million for competitive grants to eliminate hazards at highway-railway grade crossings in the FY 2020 House bill. Fighting the inclusion of controversial riders in annual appropriations bills that would undermine the safe, efficient movement of goods throughout our freight transportation network.
“With BNSF in her backyard, Rep. Granger can see firsthand the economic development spurred by freight rail connectivity,” said McGurk. “We see this in communities across the country. When railroads invest in their infrastructure—improving safety, efficiency and service—it lifts businesses up, cuts congestion and pollution, and eases the burden on our public roadways.”
Find more information about the award at https://www.aar.org/news/.
Editor's note: Representative Granger is pictured with AAR CEO Ian Jefferies (left) and shown at right is BNSF CEO Carl Ice.