Washington, D.C. — Railroad Day on Capitol Hill looked a little different this year. One day became two (April 13-14). House and Senate offices were replaced with Zoom rooms (and Zoom backgrounds). Group photos were staged via screenshot (here, here, here, and here) rather than in narrow offices or hallways. “You’re on mute” became the new handshake.
What didn’t change was the substance and our important message: America’s railroads are working harder than ever for the economy and the environment, and our policymakers should do what they can to support these workhorses.
GoRail, together with folks from across the freight rail community, from Class I and short line railroads to their suppliers and contractors, helped make the first-ever virtual Railroad Day a resounding success. Over 260 participants met with 475 congressional offices, emphasizing important policy priorities for railroads, including the need to maintain balanced regulation and oppose any changes to truck size and weight limitations.
While our team missed making those in-person connections with railroaders, policymakers and their staff, the virtual format allowed GoRail to invite more local rail advocates than ever to participate in meetings and emphasize the district-level benefits of freight rail. Participants this year included:
- AR – Jay Chesshir, CEO, Little Rock Chamber of Commerce
- CA – Marnie Primmer, Executive Director, FuturePorts
- CA – Gurbax Sahota, CEO, CALED
- CO – Patrick Sherry, Director for the National Center for Intermodal Transportation, University of Denver
- GA – Seth Millican, Executive Director, Georgia Transportation Authority
- IL – Clark Kaericher, Executive Director Technology and Infrastructure, IL Chamber of Commerce
- MO – T’Risa McCord, Interim President & CEO, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City
- MA – Anne Gobi, Massachusetts State Senator
- MA – Ariela Lovett, Policy Director, Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA)
- MA – Thomas W. Bernard, Mayor, City of North Adams and Board Member of MMA
- MD – Jennifer Guthrie, Legislative Manager, Maryland Ports Authority
- MD – Brad Smith, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Maryland Ports Authority
- MD – Patrick Wojahn, Mayor, City of College Park
- NJ – Chip Hallock, President & CEO, Newark Regional Business Partnership
- NV – Lynn O’Mara, Communications Director, Northern Nevada Development Authority
- NV – Brian Knudsen, Las Vegas City Councilman
- SC – Paul Sommerville, Vice Chairman, Beaufort County Council
- UT – Jill Flygare, COO, Utah Inland Port Authority
- UT – Mary Nan Dora, Utah Inland Port Authority
- WA – David Schaffert, President, Thurston County Chamber
- WA – Doug Mah, Policy Director, Thurston County Chamber
We thank each of these local advocates for reinforcing the message that communities benefit from robust freight railroads able to invest in infrastructure. It’s crucial for policymakers to hear from their constituents about these very real local impacts—from economic development and jobs to less congestion and cleaner skies. While we hope that next year sees us all together in person, Railroad Day 2021 was a testament to the resiliency of railroaders and the perennial importance of America’s railroads.