Galesburg, IL — Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois) took a hands-on tour of a Koppers rail tie plant in Galesburg, Ill., on Monday. Joining GoRail, the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA), the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC) and other officials, Rep. Bustos also participated in a discussion about the railroad industry’s top public policy priorities.

Congresswoman Bustos operates machinery that handles wooden railroad ties.

Last week, House Democrats elected Congresswoman Bustos as the next Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for the upcoming 116th Congress.  As Chair of the DCCC, Bustos will be the fifth-ranking Democrat in House Leadership.

Koppers, an integrated global provider of treated wood products, wood treatment chemicals and carbon compounds, is the largest supplier of railroad crossties in North America to the Class I and short line railroads. They’ve been in the rail business for over 25 years and now have more than 1,800 employees. The Galesburg tie facility employs 66.

“I had a great time touring Koppers’ Galesburg facility and hearing, first hand, from the hardworking employees about Koppers’ commitment to our state and the Galesburg community,” said Congresswoman Bustos.

“As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have been a strong advocate for federal transportation investments, supporting our railroads and improving our nation’s infrastructure. I look forward to working in a bi-partisan way to pass a federal infrastructure bill that rebuilds our nation while creating more good-paying jobs across our region.”

First elected to Congress in 2012, Congresswoman Bustos has served as a Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) and as a Senior Whip in the Democratic Caucus. She is also a member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, and sits on the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, which has jurisdiction over the economic and safety regulation of railroads.

Congresswoman Bustos speaks with Cory Misiewicz of BNSF Railway.

“Congresswoman Bustos serves in a crucial role in Washington D.C. and we appreciate her leadership advocating for increased federal infrastructure investments,” said Jim Evans, Koppers Galesburg Plant Manager.

“The privately funded and maintained freight railroad network is one of the few bright spots in America’s infrastructure network.” He went on, “Koppers and our employees are extremely proud to create well-paying jobs in Illinois and we continue to spend the capital needed to improve our facility to provide railroads like BNSF with railroad ties that help their railroad’s infrastructure.”

Attendees thanked the Congresswoman for her support of H.R.721, the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, which, if passed by Congress, would allow the nation’s small, local freight railroads to increase investment into their rail infrastructure and better serve their customers throughout rural and small-town America. The tax credit has helped small railroads invest more than $4 billion in capital infrastructure improvements since it was enacted in 2005.

“The short line railroad tax credit 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,” said Judy Petry, chair of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA). “ASLRRA thanks Congresswoman Bustos for her support on this important issue.”

In Illinois, 46 freight railroads operate and maintain over 7,120 miles of track, employing more than 13,150 people.