Peters promotes investments in short line railroads
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Hills, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, announced today he is cosponsoring legislation to encourage greater investments in short line railroads. The Building Rail Access for the Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act, which was introduced by U.S Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) would make permanent a tax credit used to repair and upgrade short line railroads, which are regional railroad lines that often serve small manufacturers, farmers, and other businesses.
“Short line railroads are critical to our state’s economy, connecting small businesses in every area of Michigan to larger markets where they can sell their goods to more consumers,” said Peters. “This bipartisan legislation will give both short line railroads and the industries they serve more certainty to make long-term investments in their companies and Michigan’s infrastructure. I applaud Senator Stabenow for introducing the BRACE Act to spur investment in Michigan’s railroads.”
The short line railroad track maintenance credit provides short line and regional railroads a 50 percent tax credit for every dollar spent on railroad track maintenance, up to $3,500 per mile of track owned or leased by the railroad. The tax credit, which was given a short-term extension in 2015, expired on January 1, 2017. The BRACE Act would provide certainty for short line railroads to invest in their infrastructure with a permanent tax credit rather than temporary extensions.
Michigan is home to 21 short line railroads that operate 79.9 percent of the total 3,582 railroad miles running through Michigan today. These railroad lines handle 295,000 railcar-loads per year, which is equivalent to 847,000 truck-loads. It is estimated that short line railroads employ 655 people across Michigan. Last year, Peters visited the Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad in Escanaba, where he saw firsthand the kinds of repairs and investments being made in Michigan’s short line railroads.