Infrastructure Investments: Building blocks for a healthy economy
By Rep. Kristi Noem
August 28, 2015
There’s hardly anything our family consumes that isn’t somehow impacted by rail. From the food we eat to products we use in our homes, the reliability of our nation’s railways is critical. In South Dakota, that importance is even more prominent. Nearly every commodity we produce is exported and shipped via rail. Disruptions or delays have an immediate and costly impact, as we saw early last year. If our infrastructure crumbles, so does our economy.
Earlier this month, I met with the Rapid City, Pierre, and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E), which covers 670 miles of track stretching from Minnesota to Wyoming and running straight through the middle of South Dakota. Railroads like RCP&E along with the state government are making meaningful investments to help avoid the backlogs that occurred last year. I’m optimistic it’s been enough to ensure our rails can run smoothly and on time this year, but as is true for our nation’s roads and bridges, continued investments are necessary.
With nearly every farmer, rancher, and consumer relying on a well-maintained rail infrastructure, investments here should be a national priority. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been supportive of offering tax incentives to those willing to devote financial resources to improving our railroads.
One such incentive is the Short Line Tax Credit, which helps smaller railroads. If you are investing in our railroads, you are creating jobs; you are increasing the speed of commerce; you are making products more affordable for hardworking families across the country. The federal government has a responsibility to make those investments easier and offering tax credits like this helps accomplish that.
I am proud to have co-sponsored legislation in the House to extend this credit through 2016 and because it has broad bipartisan support, I’m hopeful we can see it enacted soon.
I’ve also encouraged the U.S. Department of Transportation to use existing grants to make greater investments in South Dakota, as so many of our nation’s commodities are shipped out of our state. Moving wheat, soybeans, and corn more efficiently in South Dakota will reap countless benefits for consumers throughout the entire country. It’s worth the investment.
For more than a century, rail has connected our coasts and enabled American commerce to thrive. Still today, it remains one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to ship our goods, moving 40 percent of our nation’s intercity freight traffic and bringing one-third of U.S. exports to port.
Together with investments in roads and bridges, investments in our railroads help enable commerce to happen. They are the building blocks of a healthy economy and a requirement for sustainable economic growth.