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Short Line Rail Investment Effort to be Renewed

Crapo's job-creating legislation included in year-end spending bill

WASHINGTON -- Ongoing efforts by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to encourage investment in short line railroad operations will be included in a year-end spending bill slated for approval by the Senate this week.  Crapo, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, has long-championed tax incentives that encourage and support investment in short line railroads, a key for hauling goods to market in Idaho.  The provision included in the appropriations bill will extend the Section 45G credit for short line railroad track maintenance expenditures through 2022. 

Watco Companies, which operates the Boise Valley Railroad, Eastern Idaho Railroad and Great Northwestern Railroad, credits these investment credits with job creation and facility improvements across Idaho.  Eastern Idaho Railroad used the 45G tax incentives to increase shipping options and create new jobs in the Burley area. 

Crapo has been the longtime lead on legislation to make the short line credit permanent.  His bill currently has the bipartisan support of 63 members of the U.S. Senate.  Companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives currently has the bipartisan support of 297 members.  The House passed the appropriations legislation on Tuesday. 

“Short line rail is like economic bread and butter, working with Idaho farmers and industry,” Crapo said.  “It has been great to see the economic expansion efforts in Burley and across Idaho and witness first-hand the job creation this critical industry brings to Idaho and the nation.  We need to prioritize this energy-efficient way to moving goods to market into the future.” 

”We are truly grateful for Senator Crapo’s outstanding leadership and unwavering support of Idaho’s short line railroads.  He understands deeply how important these lines are to Idaho and keeping the rural communities and customers we serve connected to the national freight rail network.  Since 2017, the 45G short line tax credit helped generate over $22 million in additional projects improving critical short line infrastructure on our three Idaho railroads - the Eastern Idaho Railroad, Great Northwest Railroad and the Boise Valley Railroad,” said Laura McNichol, Senior Vice President, Watco Companies.  

Watco Companies has worked with other industries in the Burley, Idaho area to create multi-million dollar investments in cold storage and expanded shipping facilities that have created hundreds of jobs.  “This is great news, not only for our local community, but for the State of Idaho and Magic Valley, as well,” said Doug Manning, Director of Economic Development for the City of Burley. “This extension will continue to  provide a ‘marketing lifeline’ for our processed goods to be efficiently and expeditiously transported to their various markets.  It is an essential part of our development efforts.  We appreciate those who have worked so hard to make this happen.” 

Communities served in Idaho by short line rail include: Idaho Falls, Burley, Twin Falls, Boise, Cottonwood, St. Maries, Bovill, Spalding, Harvard, Moscow and Lewiston. According to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers analysis, short line railroads and their suppliers support more than 61,000 jobs in the U.S., mainly in rural America, and add $6.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy.  Short line freight services save taxpayers more than $1.5 billion annually in wear and tear on roadways, by keeping 31.8 million heavy truckloads off local roads.