House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Member visits Ashland Railway’s Mid-Ohio Rail Terminal and Mansfield Railport in Richland County.
Mansfield, OH — U.S. Representative Troy Balderson (OH-12) spent the morning learning more about the operations and impact of Ashland Railway, a short line railroad servicing north central Ohio. Led by officials from Ashland Railway, and joined by Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker and other local officials, the congressman visited the railroad’s Mid-Ohio Rail Terminal, a transloading facility, and its Mansfield Railport.
“Ohio’s 41 railroads are economic development engines, connecting our regional businesses to national and global markets,” said Rep. Balderson. “With my background in agriculture, I’m well-aware of the important role U.S. freight railroads play in moving the economy—and it’s especially instructive to see how this starts locally, at an Ohio short line like Ashland Railway.”
Ashland Railway’s 56 track-miles located along the I-71 corridor are a critical link for the region’s producers, from the steel and energy industries to farmers and consumer goods manufacturers. The short line railroad connects to the nation’s 140,000-mile freight rail network via two interchanges with Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern.
Recent improvement projects at Ashland Railway have expanded the railroad’s capacity, service, and transloading capabilities, including at its Mansfield Railport facility. The group got a firsthand look at the railport’s transloading equipment, including two 40-ton cranes and 400-foot indoor dock for railcars and tractor trailers.
“We are planning for growth,” said Steve Nielsen, Sr. Director of Marketing and Sales for Ashland Railway. “That takes significant and ongoing investment in our infrastructure. We do the bulk of that spending ourselves, but also rely on commonsense policy like the 45G short line tax credit to help us maintain that first-and-last-mile for customers. We thank Congressman Balderson for his co-sponsorship of this legislation.”
The 45G Short Line Tax Credit, expired since December 31, 2017, has helped short line railroads like Ashland Railway privately invest over $4 billion since its initiation in 2005. Bipartisan legislation to make the credit permanent, the BRACE Act, achieved historic levels of congressional support last week, with co-sponsorship from 61 senators and 272 house members.
The group also discussed how federal policies decided in Washington can impact railroads at the local level. Reregulation proposals under consideration at the U.S. Surface Transportation, for example, would ultimately undermine network efficiency and the ability of railroads to innovate and compete with other modes.
“Mansfield has been a manufacturing and railroad hub for nearly two centuries,” said Mayor Theaker. “The Ashland Railway keeps our community connected to the global marketplace and has played a key role in attracting new business to the region. The City of Mansfield, state officials, and Congressman Balderson all work in coordination to make sure local employers have the resources they need to help our community thrive.”
In Ohio, 41 freight railroads maintain 5,132 track miles and employ 6,914. Small business short line railroads are responsible for 39% of the track miles operated in Ohio, moving 247,000 carloads annually.