On January 22, 2020 U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn, the Majority Whip in the House of Representatives, received the Railroad Achievement Award in his district, SC-6. Presented by the Association of American Railroads and GoRail, the industry honored Rep. Clyburn for his longstanding leadership on surface transportation issues, including matters that directly and indirectly affect both freight and passenger railroads in South Carolina and across the nation.
Eleven railroads operate today in the Palmetto State across roughly 2,500 miles of track, collectively terminating 27.7 million tons of freight in the state in 2017 alone. Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern maintain a significant presence in Rep. Clyburn’s district and continue to work with transportation stakeholders to increase freight capacity at the Port of Charleston. Rep. Clyburn’s has been paramount throughout.
AAR president and CEO Ian Jefferies presented Rep. Clyburn with the award at the North Charleston Intermodal Transportation Center.
“Congressman Clyburn is one of the most effective leaders this generation has seen in advancing bipartisan policy, including every transportation bill of consequence for his nearly twenty years atop the Democratic caucus,” said Jefferies. “We are thrilled to honor Rep. Clyburn for his work on legislation that recognizes the vital need for a high-performing, integrated transportation network. This includes work on matters such as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, the continued work on surface transportation reauthorization in this Congress and involvement in rail-specific matters, such as grant programs to improve highway-rail grade crossings.”
The Railroad Achievement Award is given to members of Congress who have shown leadership on multimodal transportation policies that help ensure the vitality of railroads in the United States. Just last week, the Congressional Black Caucus, led by Rep. Clyburn and colleagues, issued principles for 21st Century Infrastructure, spotlighting the need for resilient infrastructure and viable transportation options for people and freight across multiple modes – ideas that railroads fully embrace.
Award winners like Rep. Clyburn have shown an understanding of the role railroads play in the U.S. economy and the need for safe and efficient operations facilitated by sustained private investment. The impact of railroads are widely evident in South Carolina as they link businesses like the Greenville BMW manufacturing facility to domestic and international markets.
Jefferies highlighted a few particularly important areas, such as:
- Continued support for the Charleston Harbor deepening project, which received $138 million in the FY2020 federal appropriations bill. When completed in 2021, the increased depth will allow for more freight to move through Charleston, eventually via railroads and off of highways.
- Leadership in passing the FAST Act, the first long-term surface transportation bill in a decade, which included several key railroad provisions, such as increased standard for tank cars carrying hazardous materials.
- Fighting the inclusion of harmful riders in annual appropriations bills that would hurt the freight and passenger railroad industry and our economy.
“Congressman Clyburn recognizes that freight rail is an economic and environmental powerhouse for communities across the country,” said Russ McGurk, president of GoRail. “From South Carolina to the rest of America and beyond, railroads are vital connectors for local businesses and consumers, their private investments catalyzing economic development in communities like Charleston and Columbia.”
Find more information about the award at https://www.aar.org/news/.