On September 15, 2015, Congresswoman Gwen Graham’s (D-FL-02) District Director Mary Lee Kiracofe and Economic Development Liaison Kent Watson toured the Georgia & Florida Railway (GFRR) in Perry, FL. The GFRR is a network of approximately 264 miles of track commencing from its Albany, Georgia headquarters, and extending into northwestern Florida near the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the entire line, connections are made along the way with other railroads in Florida and Georgia, including Class I’s Norfolk Southern and CSX. The GFRR is managed by OmniTRAX Inc.
Also in attendance at the tour was OmniTRAX Division General Manager, Southeast, Scott Remington; Florida DOT Freight, Logistics and Passenger Operations Rail Manager Todd Gruenemeier; GFRR General Manager Gene Renner, GFRR Track Inspector Tim Johnson, and Ashley Bosch of Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell.
The tour kicked off at the GP Cellulose plant, one of GFRR’s largest customers and the largest employer in Taylor county. The group was then lead on a 3 mile hi-rail tour along the GFRR. The tour highlighted the services provided by GFRR to several customers that are strategically placed along the line. The group also discussed the proposed upgrades to the line which would be made possible by an award from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program. The proposed upgrades would provide increased speed on the line up to 25 MPH, jobs in the Congresswoman’s district, improved environmental impact and operations, and potential growth for small communities and businesses in the area served by the railroad.
In addition to the proposed project upgrades, the group discussed GFRR’s current operations, and commodity mix which is quite diverse and includes wood pulp, beer, ethanol, agricultural commodities, limestone/ aggregate and a multitude of other commodities. Additional GFRR customers include Gilman Lumber, MillerCoors Brewery, Flint Hills Resources and Procter & Gamble.
Congresswoman Gwen Graham serves on the House Armed Services Committee and House Agriculture Committee.