Salt Lake City, Utah — U.S. Senator Mike Lee joined GoRail and representatives from A&K Railroad Materials, Inc (A&K) today for a tour of the rail supplier’s national headquarters in Salt Lake City. A leading supplier of new and used track materials and state-of-the-art services including welding and track removal, A&K hosted the tour and discussion, which included an overview of railroad operations in Utah as well as the freight rail industry’s legislative priorities.
“Back in 1869, Utah helped launch the first transcontinental railroad, just over an hour’s drive north of where we are today, with the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit. Now, as then, freight railroads are one of America’s powerful economic engines — connecting our State’s natural resources and other industries to markets here and abroad,” said Sen. Lee, who serves on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
“Not to mention that the industry’s commitment to infrastructure spending supports the thousands of small and large businesses like A&K Railroad Materials that provide materials and services to railroads.”
“Now, as then, freight railroads are one of America’s powerful economic engines — connecting our State’s natural resources and other industries to markets here and abroad.”
In 2017, freight railroads expect to spend $22 billion, or $60 million per day, to build, maintain and enhance the 140,000-mile rail network. This ongoing, private spending helps support the rail supply industry, including thousands of jobs nationwide. In addition to its Salt Lake City Headquarters, A&K maintains 12 retail yards and seven sales offices across the country, employing 375.
“It’s an honor to host Sen. Lee and share our story, which started with an idea and some ingenuity in 1959, and today has led to A&K housing the largest supply of used railroad ties in the country,” said Rhonda Nicoloff, president of A&K. “We rely on a healthy, robust freight rail industry that has the ability to invest in the network, to commit the enormous resources it takes to run a railroad. That’s why it’s vitally important that policymakers oppose new regulations that would undermine investment.”
Ms. Nicoloff led the tour for Sen. Lee, highlighting the distribution facility also located at A&K’s headquarters. In a meeting beforehand, the group, including GoRail AVP Michael Gaynor and the executive leadership team at A&K, discussed several proposed new rail regulations currently under consideration at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) and the deleterious effect they would have on the rail network.
“These proposed new bureaucratic regulations, including ‘forced access,’ would return the freight rail industry to a time when overregulation stifled companies’ ability to invest in their network and operations, killing efficiency and ultimately hurting our economy, consumers and the thousands of farms, factories, mines and other businesses that rely on freight rail,” said Mr. Gaynor. “Since today’s balanced regulations were put in place, railroads have spent a staggering $630 billion on the network.”
In Utah, 11 freight railroads maintain 1,604 track miles and employ 1,390.