On October 20, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Field Representative Shane Noem joined National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC) member – TRAM Construction – for a facility tour in Garrison, Kentucky.
Terry LeMaster, Founder and President of TRAM Construction
Leslia LeMaster Wilson, Operations Manager at TRAM Construction
Lindsey LeMaster, Business Development Manager at TRAM Construction
State Senator Steve West (R-27)
State Senator Robin Webb (D-18)
State Rep. and Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D-99)
State Rep. Jill York (R-96)
Anthony T. Ruckel, Lewis County Judge Executive
John Grabill, Lewis County Chamber of Commerce
Glenda Himes, Lewis County Clerk
Johnny Bivens, Lewis County Sheriff
Lindsey Collins, Vice President of Grassroots Advocacy, NRC
Terry LeMaster gave an overview of TRAM Construction and their current operations. TRAM is a family owned and operated contracting company that provides track services and railroad materials for the private and public sectors. TRAM currently has 25 employees, and has served clients throughout the Midwest and Southeast regions of the United States for over thirty years.
Terry’s introduction to the railroad construction business began with Chessie System where he worked as a camp car cook. His career progressed, and it was during his time working as a foreman that he saw a need to provide local industries with track repairs and maintenance. He did so on nights and weekends, and quickly developed a reputation for providing quality work. In 1983, Terry was awarded a contract from Mead Paper Company, and the dream of owning his own business became a reality.
Shane Noem and guests went on a walk-through of the facility, where TRAM maintains a large inventory of relay rail and other railroad track material. This material is received by rail car at the Garrison, KY location, where it is sorted to use for future track projects or processed and sold as piling or scrap to local foundries.
Attendees discussed the importance of extending the Positive Train Control (PTC) deadline to avoid serious consequences and costs for not only companies directly affected by the railroad industry, but also for the local and national economies. In 2008, Congress mandated railroads to install PTC on lines that carry passengers and/or toxic by inhalation gas, such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia. The deadline for installation is December 31, 2015.
Attendees also discussed extending the 45G tax credit, which leverages private sector investment in rail infrastructure by providing a tax credit of 50 cents for every dollar spent on track improvements. The Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2015, also known as H.R. 721, was introduced in February and already has over 50 percent co-sponsorship in the House with 241 co-sponsors. H.R. 721 would extend section 45G of the tax code which expired at the end of last year.
Mitch McConnell is the Senate Majority Leader. Elected to that position unanimously by his Republican colleagues in 2014, he is only the second Kentuckian to ever serve as Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate. He previously served as the Republican Leader in the 110th, 111th, 112th, and 113th Congresses, and as the Majority Whip in the 108th and 109th Congresses. Before his election to the Senate in 1984, he served as judge-executive of Jefferson County, KY for seven years. McConnell is Kentucky’s longest-serving senator. He currently serves as a senior member of the Appropriations, Agriculture and Rules Committees.
The NRC is the national trade association representing the independent railroad construction and supply industry. The NRC represents 375 rail construction and maintenance contractors, suppliers, and associated professional service firms which serve Class 1, short line and regional railroads, industrial track owners, the U.S. military, port facilities and terminals, and rail transit agencies. NRC members employ over 30,000 people in all 50 states, and take in $10 billion in annual revenue.
Pictured from left to right: Judge Executive Anthony T. Ruckel; Rep. Jill York; Sen. Steve West; Sen. Robin Webb; Lindsey LeMaster; Leslia LeMaster Wilson and Arlo Wilson; Lisa LeMaster; Terry LeMaster; Rep. Rocky Adkins; Shane Noem; Glenda Himes; and Lewis County Sheriff Johnny Bivens