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Hornell Mayor Buckley pens letter to Biden administration urging policy reversal

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“This Administration should not allow new high-speed trains to be built overseas in Germany”

From: John J Buckley, Mayor of Hornell NY

To: Ryan Arbuckle, Chief, Program Coordination and Strategy Office of Railroad Development, FRA

Re: (Docket No. FRA-2023-0099] Notice of Proposed Nonavailability Waiver of Buy America Requirements for the Nevada Depa1tment ofTransp01tation to Purchase Certain High-Speed Rail Components Waiver

Dear Mr. Arbuckle:

I write to you from Hornell, New York, a small community of approximately 8,500 residents in New York’s Southern Tier. Hornell was originally developed as a hub for the railroad industry and has seen its share of ups and downs over the decades.

But over the last several years, the railroad industry has once again become a vital contributor to the tremendous economic development in Hornell. Alstom’s facility here now employs nearly 700 area residents. This is up from about 250 before Alstom won the contract to build the nation’s first high­ speed trains, the Avelia Liberty for Amtrak in 2016. That’s right. Alstom is already making high-speed trains right here in the United States, right here in the City of Hornell. U.S. Senator Schumer and USDOT Under Secretary Monje saw the impressive operations for themselves when they visited Alstom’s facilities last year.

That is why I was shocked to learn that the Administration has proposed a “waiver of non-availability” that would allow some of the high-speed trains for the new Brightline West project to be made overseas.

Actions speak louder than words. This is a President who has talked about having an economic plan that would invest in places like Hornell, places that have been for too long overlooked and left to fend for themselves. Places where parents worry that their kids won’t have employment opportunities and will need to move away to get a fair chance at getting ahead in life.

If this President wants to show that he is about more than just empty words and lip service, then this Administration should not allow new high-speed trains to be built overseas in Germany. The President should honor the commitments of Buy America and support small communities like ours as we continue to try to build a better and brighter future.

It might seem like a small thing, but building trains here has ripple effects across our community and our region. Today construction is wrapping up on Alstom’s new Car Shell manufacturing facility which is gearing up for the $775 million Metra contract to replace the aging Chicago metropolitan area fleet. This contract calls for a base order of200 cars to be built in Hornell with the option of 300 more.

Alstom expects to add an additional 250 employees which means more good paying jobs here in Hornell for years to come.

Alstom’s growth in Hornell continues to be a force multiplier. Based in part on this success, we’re seeing new businesses open up in and around our city, including a new business class Hampton Inn which now provides 80 units and has created dozens of new jobs. Hornell ‘s downtown recently welcomed several new small businesses to Main Street, including the beautiful 1920’s inspired Hush Cocktail Lounge. Park Grove Reality recently completed the transformation of the former Bryant School into affordable living units which added more housing opportunities to our growing City.

These investments are possible because each business believes in the other, that manufacturing jobs will help ensure that the residents of Hornell have a little extra money in their pockets to go out to eat, that businesses will attract out of town business travelers to stay the night, that people will want to stay in Hornell and live in our downtown which we are revitalizing thanks to a $IO million downtown revitalization initiative grant through the State of New York.

And businesses like Alstom believe in Hornell in part because they know our workforce can deliver for them. And in part because they trust that the Federal government means it when they say they care about Buy America and revitalizing American manufacturing in small towns, villages, and cities like ours.

Alstom invested in Hornell, in developing a workforce that was skilled in building high speed trains, in developing a supply chain that helps our surrounding communities and stretches across 25+ states across the country, because they believed that the Biden Administration was committed to Buy America and rural communities like ours.

This proposed waiver undercuts that trust, and undermines the prosperity that building high speed rail has brought to Hornell, and the future potential that it offers our community.

I hope the Administration will reconsider and not grant the portion of the waiver that would allow for the overseas production of high-speed trains. Please support Buy American and continue prioritizing the needs and prosperity of local communities over those of other nations.

Sincerely,

John J. Buckley Mayor

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