THOMASTON, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, voiced her support Tuesday for the extension of a federal tax credit that allows local railroads to invest in their tracks and equipment.
Collins heard about the importance of that tax credit during a tour of Dragon Products cement plant in Thomaston and a presentation by Maine Eastern Railroad.
The Republican senator is a co-sponsor of the tax credit for so-called short-line railroads.
Wes Weis, the president and chief executive officer of Morristown and Erie Railway, which is the parent corporation of Maine Eastern, said the credit allows the company to reinvest money into construction and maintenance of rail lines. The credit returns 50 cents for every $1 invested.
Dragon Products is the largest user, by far, of the Maine Eastern Line that runs from Rockland to Brunswick, noted Maine Eastern Vice President Gordon Page.
Maine Eastern employs 25 people, he noted, but it’s impact goes well beyond that. Dragon Products uses the railroad to ship cement to the Rockland waterfront, where it is put on a barge and shipped to Boston. Cement also is shipped south by rail to Yarmouth, where it is then sent to Canada.
The second-largest user of the railroad is Dicaperl Corporation in Thomaston, which processes raw perlite ore, mined from New Mexico. The perlite is used to produce filter aid that is used by FMC in Rockland, which manufactures the food stabilizer carrageenan.
The senator was given a tour of the cement plant, including a ride to nearly the top of a 340-foot tower.
Collins also spoke earlier in the day to the Camden Rotary Club.