January 2023 NRC Bulletin

February 1, 2023

NRC Updates and Announcements

Thank you NRC 2023 Conference Attendees!

We would like to thank all attendees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, and anyone else who contributed to making the NRC 2023 Conference & NRC-REMSA Exhibition one of the best conferences yet. To view more information about the conference and upcoming conferences, please click here to visit our website.

We look forward to seeing you all in 2024 for the 46th NRC Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition in Scottsdale, Arizona January 3-6, 2024!

Thank you to our NRC 2023 Conference Sponsors!

Policy on Entertainment - The NRC Board of Directors has adopted a Policy on Entertainment to provide all NRC Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition ("Conference") attendees an equal opportunity to participate in the entertainment of our railroad, transit, commuter, passenger and other customers, speakers, and guests.

The Policy applies to events in connection with the Conference. During this timeframe, private hospitality events on or off the Conference premises are not permitted and no organized private entertainment is permitted while conference proceedings or events are occurring. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the common hospitality events and may not organize events that compete with the conference program.

All Attendees are expected to comply with this Policy. By registering for the Conference, you are certifying that all representatives and associates who are attending the Conference on behalf of your organization have been notified of this Policy and will observe and abide by it.

Scam Alert -We ask conference attendees to be vigilant of scams, including any solicitations via email that offer hotel deals or registration lists on behalf of the NRC. These groups are not affiliated with the NRC. Please check the NRC website or email NRC staff directly for the most up-to-date conference information.

NRC 2022 Special Awards Announced

The NRC recognized the 2022 Special Award winners at the NRC 2023 Conference. These outstanding awardees represent the very best of the NRC and the entire railroad construction and maintenance industry.

NRC 2022 Large Project of the Year

Merchants’ Bridge Reconstruction project

Submitted by: Walsh Construction Co. Subcontractor: Geo-Instruments

NRC 2022 Small Project of the Year

26 Upgrades to Bridges for South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL)

Submitted by: Bottom Line Company. Supplier: Wheeler Lumber, LLC

NRC 2022 Field Employee of the Year

Chad Hummel, Project Manager

Hamilton Construction Co.

NRC 2022 Innovation in Technology Award (1st Place)

FTS Tools LLC for successfully developing battery-operated tools with comparable productivity, durability, and power as hydraulic options.

NRC 2022 Innovation in Technology Award (2nd Place)

Harsco Rail with the second-place award for its TX16 production/switch tamper

PHOTOS: If you or your organization received an award at the 2023 NRC Conference or were an attendee, please click here to access the professionally taken photograph gallery. These photos span the conference and include awards, speakers, and more!

2022 NRC Hall of Fame Inductions

Ronald Lee McDaniel

Ronald Lee McDaniel (1939-2022) worked in the railway industry for 65 years and was a widely known and esteemed leader in the supply community. He started as a draftsman with the Hayes Track Appliance Company in 1957 right out of high school. After years of hard work, he convinced owner Bryce Hayes to sell him the company. Ron became owner and president of Western-Cullen-Hayes Inc., a leading supplier of railroad appliances, including mechanical and signal equipment. He traveled the world and established Western-Cullen-Hayes as a respected worldwide railway supplier. McDaniel served on several industry boards, including as a board member and president of RSSI (Railway Systems Suppliers Inc.) and REMSA (Railway Engineering and Maintenance Supply Association), as well as an NRC board member.

‍Joseph Milton “Bud” McGrath Jr.

Joseph Milton "Bud" McGrath JR., the 4th generation of McGrath railroaders, was born in Webber Falls, Oklahoma, and led an interesting life highlighted by service in the navy, in professional baseball, and in the railroad and construction business. He was an industry leader who built up the family business as well as the NRC. Bud was charter member of the NRC and served as secretary at the first conference in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1978. Charter members contributed three years of dues in advance to get the association started. Bud took on the duties as the Chairman of the Safety Committee and wrote the first NRC Safety Manual. He also served as president of the association in 1984. Bud and other charter members are responsible for not only forming the NRC but shepherding it through its formative years. Their contributions helped to solidify the NRC’s influence, financial stability, and longevity.

‍Jon M. McGrath, Sr.

Jon M. McGrath, Sr. is a fifth-generation railroader who started working on a track crew for the family railroad construction business in 1973 at age 14. During his 49 years with the company, he has worn many hats –progressing from a laborer to equipment operator, track foreman, superintendent, vice president and now president and chief executive officer of McGrath Railroad Construction. Along the way he earned degrees from the University of Oklahoma and Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College and developed extensive railroad construction expertise. While building the family business, McGrath served as Chairman of the NRC and on the NRC Board of Directors for 26 consecutive years. He was an active board member who served on many committees. Since leaving the board, Jon has been an ardent supporter of NRC initiatives, serving as an advocate in the Western United States.

NRC 2022 Safety Award Winners

The NRC honored the 2022 Safety Award winners during the NRC 2023 Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition. These outstanding awardees were recognized for their extensive efforts to promote and improve safety in the rail contracting industry. These companies and their employees represent the very best of the NRC and the entire railroad construction and maintenance industry. The NRC would also like to thank the Safety Award judges, David Armstrong and Kevin Brons of Commercial Insurance Associates for their hard work on scoring these applications. To view the winners, please click here.

Congratulations to all of the 2022 Safety Award and 2022 Special Award winners!

All award winners were recognized at the NRC 2023 Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition in Boca Raton, FL. For more info on the conference visit our website: https://www.nrcma.org/events/nrc-remsa-annual-conference

Again, if you or your organization received an award at the 2023 NRC Conference or were an attendee, please click here to access the professionally taken photograph gallery. These photos span the conference and include awards, speakers, and more!

Questions? Please contact NRC staff at [email protected].

Save-the-Date: NRC Annual Equipment Auction is April 27!

The NRC and Maintenance of Way Equipment Services will be hosting our annual construction and maintenance equipment auction in-person and virtually on April 27. Click here to register for the NRC auction.

A 10% buyer's premium is charged on all items. A percentage of the equipment consigned to sell helps fund the NRC Safety, Training, and Education Program, and the seller keeps the rest. For donated equipment, 100% of the proceeds go to the NRC Safety, Training, and Education Program which helps to fund NRC safety videos and training programs such as Part 243 Templates. Please visit the NRC website for more information.

We highly encourage all contractors, suppliers, and railroads to sell and/or donate their equipment. If you have a large item you are thinking about moving or having difficulty getting off your lot, then please contact NRC staff at [email protected] and Thomas Blackmon Jr. of Blackmon Auctions at [email protected].

Auction Details:

Location: Maintenance of Way Equipment Services, 503 Avenue H, Rosenberg, Texas 77471

Date/Time: Thursday, April 27, 2023

Happy House and Virtual Small Auction: Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Equipment and Bidder Registration: To register equipment for sale or donation, or to register as a bidder, please click here.

Equipment Inspection: Contact Thomas Blackmon at [email protected] or Billy Hartnedy [email protected] for equipment inquiries.

Shipment & Delivery of Equipment: The 2023 auction allows on-site items and off-site items. To schedule shipment or delivery of equipment following the auction, please contact Thomas Blackmon Jr. of Blackmon Auctions at [email protected] or Billy Hartnedy [email protected]

NRC Members: NRC Membership Renewals Begin on February 15!

It's almost time to renew your company's NRC 2023 membership! NRC staff will email your organization's primary contact for with all corresponding information for your organization's renewal. If your organization was a member in 2022, and you would like to renew or have any questions about renewing or joining in please contact NRC staff at [email protected]. Additionally, please click here to take the NRC membership survey, if you have not already done so.

Not an NRC member and want to access to this and many other membership benefitsJoin as an NRC member today!. If you have any questions about joining the NRC, or your organization's current membership status, please simply reply to this email.

Save-the-Date: Railroad Day on the Hill is May 17

The NRC works together with the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), and other rail stakeholders to schedule and coordinate Railroad Day on Capitol Hill, an annual lobbying event in Washington, D.C. It draws hundreds of stakeholders in the railway industry – including railroad, transit and commuter rail representatives as well as contractors, suppliers and rail customers – to meet with their congressional members. Their goal is to tell the successful story of railways in the United States – the positive impact on the local, regional, national and global economy – and to request a supportive legislative and regulatory approach.

Railroad Day is scheduled for May 17, 2023 and will be in-person for the first time since 2020!

Registration will open soon, so look for information via email and social media. Please make sure to check the NRC website for more info as it becomes available. There will be no cost for registration.

President Biden and USDOT Announce Mega Grant Awardees

On January 31, President Biden and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Buttigieg announced that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded nearly $1.2 billion from the new National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) discretionary grant program for nine projects across the country. The Mega Program is authorized to support large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and for projects that are likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits. The IIJA made up to $5 billion available for the Mega program for the period of FY 2022 through 2026. For this application cycle, the US DOT received applications requesting approximately $30 billion in funding, more than the $1 billion in funding made available for FY 2022. See MEGA FY 2023 Combined Fact Sheet here and additional Mega program details hereTo view the list of awardees, please click here.

The Mega program will invest a total of $5 billion through 2026 to help rebuild the United States’ infrastructure. For this application cycle specifically, the U.S. Department of Transportation received applications requesting approximately $30 billion in funding, far exceeding the $1 billion of funding available in 2022. Additionally, thanks to a new, application process, applicants for the Mega program were also able to use the same application for two additional grant programs: the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (Rural) and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program (INFRA). The Department announced INFRA and Rural awards in September and December of 2022, respectively.

Biden-Harris Administration Announce Nearly $274 million in Rural Grants

On December 21, 2022 the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the Biden-Harris Administration had awarded $273.9 million from the new Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program (Rural) to help communities around the US complete transportation projects that will increase connectivity, improve safety and reliability, support regional economic growth, and improve the quality of life for people living in rural areas. Due to decades of disinvestment, around 13% of rural roads and 10% of off-system bridges, most of which are in rural areas, are in poor condition.

One of the recipients is the Downtown Moorhead (MN) Grade Separation Project. The project will construct two underpasses that will eliminate two at-grade railroad crossings on 11th street in Downtown Moorhead, as part of a comprehensive project to improve US Highway 10 and US Highway 75 through downtown Moorhead. To view a full list of the awardees, please click here

NRC Members: Key NOFOS and Deadlines now on USDOT Website

In January of 2023, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), in order to provide stakeholders with more visibility into upcoming funding opportunities, published a list of anticipated dates for upcoming Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) for key programs within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as well as adjacent programs that support BIL and IRA objectives. This list is not comprehensive and will be updated periodically with additional programs and revised dates as appropriate. To view that list, please click here.

CABT Sends Members of Congress Coalition Letter on TSW

On January 31 2023, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT), sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure, Senate Environment and Public Works, Senate Commerce, and House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging them to oppose any legislation that would increase maximum truck weight or length limits (TSW) on federal highways, including those that would raise truck weight limits as part of a “pilot program” or any state or commodity exemptions or waivers of current federal limits. 

The letter also mentions increases in truck length and weight would have especially severe consequences for local roads and bridges and reiterates that as Congress look to rebuild our roads and bridges, allowing heavier and longer trucks would only make matters worse. The NRC supports maintaining existing federal truck size and weight maximums to help control damage trucks cause to our highway infrastructure. To read the letter, please click here.

FRA Issues Safety Bulletin 2022-01

In December 2022, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), announced it is investigating

a recent fatal accident when a train operating on the mainline struck a piece of angle iron protruding from a freight car on the adjacent main track. Based on FRA’s preliminary results from its ongoing investigation, the piece of angle iron appears to have been part of the freight car (not lading, but a repair to the carbody side top cord of a scrap metal gondola car) that was starting to dislodge from the carbody.

The purpose of this Safety Bulletin, which is informal in nature, is to provide almost immediate awareness to the industry that an accident or incident occurred resulting in a fatality or significant damage to property or the environment. Its purpose is to also provide the industry key information with which to brief or (re)train employees. As FRA completes its investigation, it may take additional actions with respect to this incident/accident. To view the bulletin, please click here.

NRC Member Company Loram Announces CEO Transition

On December 14, NRC Member Company Loram announced that after an extraordinary 30 years of service to the company and industry, Phil Homan, Loram’s CEO, will retire effective in May 2023. Additionally, Loram is pleased to announce Bradley Willems, current President and COO, has been appointed to the position of President & CEO of Loram, effective January 1, 2023. To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Homan will assume his new role as Executive Director of Loram through May 2023. 

Mr. Homan joined Loram in 1993 as Controller and was appointed to various management positions including General Manager Europe, Manager Business Development, Vice President Marketing and Executive Vice President. In 2008, he was named President & CEO and appointed to the Board of Directors. “Brad has a long and distinguished career in the public accounting world with RSM McGladrey, his various leadership roles in finance, supply chain and business development at Supervalu and the last ten years here at Loram as Director of Sales and Marketing, CFO and most recently President and COO,” said Homan.

Industry News and Updates

CapMetro names Watkins president, CEO

On January 31, Capital Metro's board in Austin, Texas, has named Dottie Watkins the transit agency’s president and CEO. Watkins had served as interim CEO since June 2022, after former president and CEO Randy Clarke left to become general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Watkins was selected following a nationwide search, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said. Watkins joined CapMetro in 1994 as a part-time shuttle bus driver. She moved up in the leadership ranks, including as deputy CEO, chief customer officer/chief operating officer and vice president of bus operations and maintenance.

STB issues final environmental review of proposed CP-KCS merger

On January 27, the Surface Transportation Board (STB)issued a final environmental mpact statement (EIS) for the proposed merger between Canadian Pacific (CP) and Kansas City Southern (KCS). Issued in three volumes, the final EIS provides additional information on the resource areas of grade crossing delay, safety, noise and vibration. It also sets forth the final recommendations of the STB Office of Environmental Analysis, including mitigation measures. The final EIS can be found by clicking here.

Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program Info

NRC Members and Industry Friends, encourage your organizations to get the word out about Michigan Tech's Summer Youth Program! Registration is open, with a deadline for the first cut on sessions and locations is March 12th. Come and learn why railroads remain the most energy-efficient transportation mode and what forms modern railroad track, equipment, and communications/control systems might take.

For more information, please click here.

The NRC is a trade association representing businesses from across the nation in the rail construction and maintenance field. NRC members range in size from small family businesses to the largest companies in the industry. NRC members perform work for transit, commuter, intercity passenger, industrial, and freight rail customers, with services including track construction and maintenance, grade crossings, signal and communications installation, bridge construction and repair, rail yard work, and many more. The NRC strives to put an emphasis on rail safety and quality while proudly serving the rail industry