ESCANABA — A senator had an impromptu visit in Delta County this morning in efforts to support the railroad industry. ABC 10’s Sarah Mac was there and she brings us the story.
Sen. Gary Peters was in Escanaba Friday morning to tour the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad Company, as a part of his efforts to make sure that Choo-choo’s don’t go bye-bye and instead to thrive.
Sen. Gary Peters (D – MI) says “Railroads are a vital part of our nations economy and they’re going to continue to be a vital part of the economy.”
The Michigan Railroads Association says railroads are still one of the most cost effective ways to move raw materials and goods, like oil and timber. The senator co-sponsored a bill last year that extended tax credits for two years to short line railroads – like the ones in the U.P. – so that companies have a means to invest in infrastructure.
VP of Marketing for the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad Company Tom Klimeck says, “Senator Peters has been a strong advocate for short line rail roads, and has worked in Washington to assist small railroads so that we can improve and expand our infrastructure.”
Indeed they are improving and expanding.
Workers at this main shop are tasked with repairing and refurbishing railroad cars from as far as Texas.
Peters says, “The folks that work here – these are good paying jobs high skilled jobs, and we’re hoping to expand they’re operation here to not only refurbish cars, which they already do, nearly over 2,000 a year, but to build new rail cars for the future.”
Part of Sen. Peter’s visit was seeing industry innovations, like this Geometry Car – which will use satellite technology to collect data from railroad tracks in the hopes of preventing future derailments.
The data that is collected gets sent directly to officials in Washington, D.C. so they can figure out what improvements need to be made. There are four geometry cars in the country and the facility in Escanaba is responsible for two of them.
Peters added that the railroad industry has the potential to add good paying, skilled jobs for U.P. residents in the future.