Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC-1), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, joined representatives June 4 from Geismar-Modern Track Machinery (Geismar-MTM) and industry stakeholders for a tour of Geismar's new Beaufort manufacturing facility.
Officials also engaged in a transportation public policy discussion during the event. The company recently opened a 47,000-square foot facility in Beaufort, with plans to add about 50 local jobs through a $2.9 million investment.
Geismar-MTM says the new American manufacturing division will allow for the company to compete for federal transit projects, which require American-sourced materials.
The company's president, Al Reynolds, who also serves as vice president for the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association, Inc. (REMSA), led the tour. Attendees explored Geismar's manufacturing facility, which was recently on-shored from Europe and Canada, officials said.
Those who attended the tour also viewed a dual powered diesel-battery vehicle in development for Amtrak. While in battery mode, the vehicle is emission free and its engine noise is abated, creating a safer working environment for Amtrak's employees.
"We are honored to host Congressman Sanford, Mayor Keyserling, and valued members of our local government today," Reynolds said . "We located our first U.S. manufacturing facility in South Carolina because of its competitive business environment and strong transportation links. We are greatly looking forward to competing for U.S. passenger rail and transit business and manufacturing the tools needed to maintain safe rail operations here in South Carolina. We greatly appreciate Rep. Sanford's leadership on transportation and rail issues."
Rep. Sanford was elected in 2013 and is currently in his sixth term in Congress. He has been vocal regarding infrastructure investment needs in South Carolina and nationwide, officials noted.
"It was a pleasure to join so many local stakeholders to tour Geismar-MTM's new facility here in Beaufort," Rep. Sanford said. "I have been a strong supporter of transportation investments and sound regulatory policies that allow companies like Modern Track Machinery to succeed. I look forward to continued work with all stakeholders to ensure we maintain an efficient and safe railroad network."
The group also advocated for support of the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act to enable small, local freight railroads to increase their reinvestments to upgrade and expand the "first and last mile" of transportation infrastructure.
Attendees advocated for maintaining the current federal limits for truck size and weight, as well. At current weight and size limits, trucks already cause more damage than they pay for to our nation's highways.
REMSA coordinated the event and represents six maintenance-of-way companies in South Carolina. Currently, 13 freight railroads operate more than 2,200 track miles in South Carolina.