PAULSBORO Among heavy machinery, hard hats and construction sounds, Congressman Donald Norcross looked comfortable, even content, Thursday morning on a tour of railway construction in Paulsboro.
The sounds of pinging metal on Railroad Construction Company's property was the sound of jobs. Steel and wood railway supplies held at the company's Mantua Avenue yard smelled like commerce.
"If commerce doesn't move, jobs are stopping," said Norcross, sporting a red hard hat and neon yellow vest at the construction company's headquarters.
Without the railway — particularly three miles of new track to support the Paulsboro Marine Terminal — commerce won't move through the port.
"I'm back here, out of Washington, with real people," Norcross said on the second leg of the tour — the port — where construction crews welded track pieces and built sections of the new 1,670-foot track related to the terminal.
That's exactly what Railroad Construction Company CEO James Daloisio wanted the congressman to see.
"We wanted all of our congressmen and senators to be aware of what happens with money for our infrastructure," Daloisio said atop a closed landfill, overlooking ongoing work to build the port.
About 25 laborers with the port's general contractor worked below alongside 16 Railroad Construction Company workers laying the extensive new track.
Not since Daloisio joined the company in 1973 has that much track been laid in South Jersey, he noted.
"We want them to see how it affects real people," the rail company CEO explained.
Norcross focused on the future of the site, a bustling marine terminal capitalizing on the "liquid highway," the Delaware River, and South Jersey's existing rail system.
"Ships are literally waiting to dock here," he said, standing on port property with the river and Philadelphia skyline behind him.
"What I see behind me is jobs."
NMLK Steel, the marine terminal's first tenant on 40 of the port's 190 acres, is expected to create about 150 permanent jobs on the site.
Officials estimate the port will create 850 jobs upon its completion.
Daloisio took the moments with Norcross to bend the congressman's ear on allocating more funding to railroads through shortline rehab tax credits, an incentive for rail operators to update tracks that give companies like Daloisio's work.
Carly Q. Romalino; (856) 486-2476; firstname.lastname@example.org