Representatives of Knife River Corporation and industry stakeholders hosted Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4) for a tour May 31 of Knife River's Harrisburg precast facility in an event coordinated by the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) and the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA).
The groups represent more than 15 members in Oregon, NRC said.
Knife River Corporation is a top 10 aggregate producer in the U.S. and is fully American-owned and operated. The company is the largest producer of construction aggregates, asphalt and ready-mix concrete in Oregon and relies on all modes of transportation to move its goods.
Matt Bell, the NRC's executive vice president/COO, and Sean Winkler, director of advocacy for REMSA, organized the tour, which was led by Loren Later of Knife River.
Attendees also discussed the private nature of the U.S. freight railroad network, which does not rely on federal support for the expansion or maintenance of its network.
The group advocated for support of the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, which will allow small, local freight railroads to increase their reinvestments to upgrade and expand first- and last-mile transportation infrastructure.
"We are honored to host Congressman DeFazio and share our Oregon success story and continued commitment to state with him," said Loren Later, vice president of Knife River Corporation. "As a major shipper of aggregates, it is crucial that our company is continually served efficiently and safely by freight rail. We greatly appreciate Congressman DeFazio's leadership in transportation issues in Congress and look forward to working with him to ensure Oregon continues to be a rail and shipping hub."
Linda Bauer Darr, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), described Knife River Corporation as a key rail industry supplier,
"The shortline railroad tax credit, which would be made permanent by the BRACE Act, is an essential piece of the economic puzzle, allowing short lines to invest more of their own capital in rail improvements and maintenance to provide ever-safer and more robust service capabilities for their customers," Bauer Darr said.
Rep. DeFazio was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1986 and is the longest-serving House member in Oregon's history. He also serves as the Ranking Member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which oversees transportation. He has been a strong advocate for reinvesting in the country's infrastructure and its workforce.
In 2017, DeFazio received the Railroad Achievement Award from the Association of American Railroads for his continued industry leadership.
"It was a pleasure to tour Knife River and see, first hand, their commitment to our state," Rep. DeFazio said. "I look forward to continuing to work with my constituents to ensure our nation invests in our infrastructure and workforce."