Cathy Smith to Retire After 18-Year Railroad Career

Cathy Smith, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, has announced she will retire effective May 31, 2021, after an 18-year career in railroading. Over the years she held various management positions within IAIS including Controller, VP of Finance and Accounting, and most recently, V.P. and Chief Financial Officer. Cathy also served as the Secretary for Iowa Interstate’s Board of Directors since 2012. Her contributions to Iowa Interstate’s success during her career were many and she is to be commended for her years of hard work and dedication.

Cathy began her accounting career in 1986 working for a start-up company which would eventually become McLeod*USA. She held various management positions in Accounting, Production and Sales Operations where her primary responsibilities included performing the due diligence process to analyze the viability of over 60 company acquisitions during her 15 year tenure. She held the position of VP of Sales Operations when she left the company.

Cathy graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA degree in Accounting and achieved her goal of becoming a Certified Public Accountant in 2003.

Cathy is looking forward to spending time with her daughters and their families, fishing with her husband, Bert and some much-needed quiet time in her “She Room”.

Allen Polfer has served as our Controller since he was hired in March of 2017 and he has accepted the promotion of Chief Financial Officer as of June 1, 2021.

All of us at IAIS wish Cathy the best in retirement!

RDC forms partnership with iCON Infrastructure

Partnership positions Iowa Interstate Railroad as “A Platform for Growth”

For Immediate Release RDC forms partnership with iCON Infrastructure Partnership positions Iowa Interstate Railroad as “A Platform for Growth” Railroad Development Corporation (“RDC”) of Pittsburgh, PA, has today entered into a strategic partnership with iCON Infrastructure, pursuant to which iCON Infrastructure Partners V (“iCON V”) will become a 40% partner in Iowa Interstate Railroad (“IAIS”). RDC will remain the majority owner of IAIS and together with iCON V will continue to support its strong management team and dedicated workforce in providing best-in-class service to IAIS’ diverse customer base.

IAIS is a regional freight railroad operating in the agro-industrial heartland of the USA. Its main line runs between Chicago and Omaha, with a branch line to Peoria, connecting with each of North America’s seven Class I railroads, a number of short line railroads, and the Mississippi and Illinois river systems. Its customer base is diversified among agriculture, construction, and consumer products. Key products handled by IAIS include corn, soybeans, agricultural products such as ethanol and animal feed, construction stone, steel, sand and intermodal containers.

Recognized as a leader in safety and growth, IAIS’ location and independence provide competitive options for its customers and the railroad serves an important role in industrial development for its territory. IAIS was formed in 1984, with RDC acquiring a minority interest in 1991 and owning 100% since 2004.

Henry Posner III, Chairman of RDC and IAIS, commented: “RDC’s business model is based on partnerships, a model that originates from the business acumen of my father, Henry Posner Jr. In this case we are fortunate to have found a partner that shares our culture. Together we are well positioned to advance the interests of the customers and communities we serve, and the interests of our industry as part of one of the world’s great network businesses.

IAIS will now increasingly serve as a platform for growth. This can take many forms, ranging from partnerships with other railroad companies to industrial development and investment in infrastructure such as intermodal facilities and river ports.

We see in iCON a partner with a global reach and a focus on infrastructure, with resources that complement our own. We welcome iCON as a partner and appreciate this vote of confidence in our quest to earn the position of the most respected railway company in North America.”

Rory Hunter, Director at iCON Infrastructure, commented: “Over the years we have known RDC, we have been continually impressed with their commitment to driving growth at their investments, whilst requiring the highest safety standards and customer service levels. Through this partnership we are excited to support Joe, Henry and the broader team in achieving our shared objective of continuing the strong growth trajectory of IAIS.”

Joe Parsons, President and CEO of Iowa Interstate Railroad, commented: “All of us at IAIS are pleased with our new partnership with iCON Infrastructure and see this as a tremendous opportunity to further our mutual interests in safety and growth. When we combine the IAIS network and customer base with iCON’s resources and global experience, I am confident that we will achieve significant growth and be better positioned for future opportunities.”

Railroad Development Corporation (“RDC”) is a Pittsburgh-based railway investment and management company with interests in railways and related businesses in the Americas and Europe. Further information is available at:

iCON Infrastructure LLP (“iCON Infrastructure” or “iCON”) is an independent investment firm focused on investments in core infrastructure businesses across North America and Europe. Investments owned by funds advised by iCON Infrastructure include interests in Mountaineer Gas Company and TruVista Communications in the US; Capstone Power and Vista Services in Canada; Verbrugge International and Combined Cargo Terminals in the Netherlands; Gruppo Spinelli, EGEA and Eco Eridania in Italy; Hannover Airport and USG in Germany; Nua Healthcare Services in Ireland; Arcadia Renovables in Spain; and Bristol Water, Gridlink, SELCHP, Choice Care Group and Green Recovery Projects in the UK. iCON Infrastructure is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Further information is available at:

Iowa Interstate Railroad (“IAIS”) is a Cedar Rapids based freight railway company operating in the Midwestern region of the USA between Chicago, Peoria and Omaha. Further information is available at:

Iowa Interstate Railroad, LTD opens the William J. Duggan Bridge for rail traffic

Booneville, Iowa – The Iowa Interstate Railroad, LTD (IAIS) opened the new William J. Duggan Bridge in Booneville, IA to freight rail traffic on June 30, 2020. This new, state-of-the-art structure crosses the Raccoon River west of Des Moines, IA and replaces a 119-year-old through truss bridge. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funded half of the project costs through a Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant of $3.5 million. The project was completed in record-setting time and under budget.
“The William J. Duggan Bridge will ensure safe and efficient freight connections between IAIS customers and rail destinations across North America and around the world,” said IAIS President Joe Parsons. “Completion of this project is yet another step in our unending drive at IAIS to prioritize safety, resiliency, and reliability in everything we do.”
“This bridge is a fitting tribute to Bill Duggan’s ongoing lifetime of service to the industry in this country and around the world which continues to this day” said Henry Posner III, chairman of IAIS. “After the bankruptcy of our predecessor the Rock Island in 1980, the IAIS route was deemed unnecessary and nearly liquidated: in fact, parts of the railroad stood idle until 1984. Bill came to the Iowa Interstate from the Illinois Central in 1989, and was tasked with keeping the railroad running with very limited traffic and funding. The early years were tough, but we have evolved into today’s strong, stable, resilient route connecting Iowa and Illinois to the world because of the foundation-both physical and cultural- laid by Bill. It is especially appropriate that this bridge carry his name as our West End has historically been our lowest-density segment and was at one point a re-abandonment candidate.”
Bill Duggan served as IAIS’ VP-Engineering, then VP-Operations, from 1989 to 1999, and has since served as VP-Operations of IAIS’ parent Railroad Development Corp. (RDC), where his roles have included service as President of Ferrovias Guatemala and responsibility for passenger businesses in Germany.
IAIS, FRA, and US DOT successfully completed construction in under 17 months from the date of award. Fifty percent of funding for the William J. Duggan Bridge was awarded by FRA on February 8, 2019 with IAIS funding the remaining 50%. The William J. Duggan Bridge is 661′-6″ long and consists of eight 75′ steel beam spans set on nine cast-in-place concrete piers with two concrete bents supporting a pre-stressed concrete box beam. Unlike the antiquated predecessor structure, the William J. Duggan Bridge will support sustained 40-mph train speeds with modern 286,000-pound freight rail cars and no dimensional load limitations.
Project engineering was led by HDR, Inc. of Omaha, NE. Bridge general contractor was A.M. Cohron & Son, Inc. of Atlantic, IA. IAIS Chief Engineer Chad Lambi, PE and Assistant Chief Engineer Greg D. Mitchell, PE oversaw project construction for IAIS.

Valued Iowa Interstate Customers and Partners,

March 16, 2020

Valued Iowa Interstate Customers and Partners,

As the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues, I want to let each of you know that Iowa Interstate Railroad is watching the situation closely and engaged in business continuity preparation and planning.   As of this writing, we are open for business and have no plans to curtail operations.    We are committed to the safety of our employees while continuing to provide our valuable services to the nation’s freight rail customers and partners.

Since we became aware of COVID-19 and its possible spread in the US, we have been following all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as our local and state health officials.   This guidance includes, but is not limited to, informing our employees of recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ensuring facilities have the necessary supplies to disinfect and clean shared workspaces, and bolstering our contingency plans for business continuity by gearing up for more remote office work should the need arise.

Again, Iowa Interstate understands the important role we serve to not only each of you, but to our nation in this time of uncertainty.    Our goal is to continue safely providing these services in the face of this adversity and look forward to our continued partnership for many years under better circumstances.   I wish you all stay healthy and safe!


Joe B. Parsons

OLI receives renewed Posner Foundation funding

Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) has received renewed grant funding for its rail safety education efforts in 2020 from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh, the rail safety group announced earlier this week.
The grant will continue and expand the support of rail safety projects and initiatives that the Posner Foundation helped to fund in 2019.
“The 2020 grant will allow us to expand our work at the national level and support our state programs across the country,” OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh said in a press release, which did not mention the 2020 grant’s dollar amount.
Specifically, the 2020 funds will support the expanded distribution of an public service announcement (PSA) campaign aimed at reducing near-miss incidents with pedestrians near railroad tracks; supplement funding for state programs; and create a new discretionary fund to assist state programs with purchasing educational and promotional materials for their outreach efforts.
In 2019, the Posner Foundation donated $100,000 to OLI. The funds helped support the creation of media-related resources and distribution of a PSA about emergency notification system signs, as well as supplemented funding for state programs and provided support for national volunteer efforts.

New Rail Tank Cleaning Operation in Durant, Iowa Earns Kosher Wash Certification

For Immediate Release

Twin State Environmental has opened Raptor® Tank Cleaning Services, a Railcar Cleaning facility for tank cars and hopper cars located in Durant, Iowa on the Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) with connections to all US Class 1 carriers.  This new operation features the Raptor® Tank Cleaning System eliminating human confined space tank entry by incorporating automation and robotics to guarantee a superior clean.

Founder and Chief Technology Officer Scott Tinsman III stated, “the Raptor® was developed and engineered based on years of industry experience. It utilizes robotics and automation to ensure the complete removal of heel and build-up from hopper and tanker railcars.  This safe, economical and unique cleaning technology removes the need for anyone to enter a tank while it contains product. The Raptor® handles liquids, solids and sludge in all types of hazardous, non-hazardous and feed-stock materials including acid, asphalt, crude oil, vegetable oil, animal fats and tallow.”

With the ability to offer Kosher washes, Raptor® is strategically located in the Mid-West to service numerous customers including those following Kosher practices. Carrie Evans, vice president of sales and marketing for Iowa Interstate Railroad welcomes Twin State Environmental’s Raptor® Tank Cleaning Service cleaning operation to its diverse portfolio of existing customers on its line.  “This is a valuable service to many customers in the tank car industry and we are excited to have this ideally located option available,” said Evans.  

The Raptor® system can handle any amount of heel, even in excess of 10,000 pounds.  This new, safe and very efficient system minimizes cleaning time, maximizes shipment volume and reduces freight costs, changing railcar cleaning economics from a “have to” to a “want to” for many customers. 

“Our Raptor® Tank Cleaning System typically cleans a tank in hours allowing a railcar to return to service in days, not weeks,” stated Charles (Chip) Lee, Jr., Twin State Environmental President. 

Twin State Environmental also sells and installs Raptor® Tank Cleaning Systems and railcar cleaning equipment and engineered systems.  For more information, visit .

For additional information, contact Charles (Chip) Lee, Jr. at or 563-359-3624

Iowa Interstate Railroad Supports Adoption of USMCA

Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) President and CEO, Joe Parsons said, “IAIS has conferred with customers in Iowa and Illinois to evaluate the impacts of the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on their business and on economic opportunities in the communities we serve.  Based on those conversations, IAIS is supportive of the enactment of USMCA.”

“Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) is the first and last mile of safe, quality freight transportation services connecting our customers in Iowa and Illinois to opportunities around the world.  The adoption of USMCA is a key step in preserving free and fair trade across North America.  The efficient flow of Iowa and Illinois products to Canada and Mexico is good for IAIS, but more importantly, it is good for our customers.  For this reason, IAIS supports and encourages the adoption of USMCA.”

IAIS is a member of the Association of American Railroads (AAR).  The AAR is also supporting adoption of USMCA and the AAR statement can be found here.

GE Transportation, Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) Announce Locomotive Order

Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd. (a wholly owned subsidiary of RDC Domestic Holdings Corporation, an affiliate of Railroad Development Corporation of Pittsburgh, PA) announced today it will acquire three new Evolution™ Series locomotives from GE Transportation. The locomotives will be produced in early 2020 and used to transport grains, ethanol, metals and more across Iowa Interstate’s network between Chicago and Omaha.

IAIS President and CEO, Joe Parsons said “For over a decade, IAIS has invested heavily in infrastructure to support our customers and increase safety. The purchase of these locomotives will help us remain competitive and poised for the growth we are currently experiencing.”

Industrywide data makes clear the positive momentum IAIS and GE Transportation are facing. For the first 38 weeks of 2018, United States rail traffic was up 4.0 percent compared with 2017, according to the Association of American Railroads.

“Our technology solutions are driving improved productivity and reliability to IAIS’s fleet and helping this valued customer move freight more efficiently.” said Yuvbir Singh, GE Transportation’s Vice President of Equipment.

The agreement also includes equipping these new locomotives with GE Transportation’s GoLINC™ Platform, Trip Optimizer™ System, and Distributed Power LOCOTROL® to maximize train effectiveness and efficiency. These solutions are part of GE Transportation’s Train Performance product suite, which optimizes power distribution, train handling, brake control and fuel utilization. Additionally, these digital offerings will be installed on IAIS’s existing Evolution™ Series installed fleet of 17 locomotives.

“We are proud to partner again with GE Transportation,” said Parsons. “These locomotives and their digital technology will allow us to provide safe, quality transportation services in a way that enables our customers and our company to succeed.”

The GE Evolution™ Series locomotive meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stringent emission standards without the use of any aftertreatment, enabling railroads to gain significant savings through urea infrastructure cost avoidance and reduced operational costs.

Joe Parsons Promoted to President and CEO

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, September 21, 2018; Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd. announces the promotion of Joe Parsons from General Manager to President and CEO of the Iowa Interstate Railroad.

Joe Parsons joined Iowa Interstate in September of 2013 as Chief Operating Officer; he was promoted to General Manager in 2017. As President and CEO, Parsons is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the entire railroad, overseeing the transportation, engineering, and mechanical departments, as well as administration departments.

Prior to joining the Iowa Interstate Railroad, Parsons had over 10 years of railroad management experience at both Class I and short line railroads. Parsons began his railroad management career with Norfolk Southern in the Transportation department working in various locations. He eventually was promoted to Terminal Superintendent in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 2011, Parsons accepted the position of Assistant General Manager with the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad and later served as that carrier’s General Manager.

IAIS Chairman Henry Posner III commented, “Joe’s performance as General Manager confirmed his dedication to safety, lifelong learning, and traffic growth”. Bob Pietrandrea, President of IAIS owner Railroad Development Corp. added, “Joe has proven himself as the natural successor for leadership of the IAIS management team”.

Parsons holds a Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business.

Watco Partners with IAIS to Develop the Council Bluffs Terminal

Watco has partnered with the regional railroad Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) to develop the Council Bluffs Terminal in Iowa.

The terminal is served by the Iowa Interstate Railroad and has access to all Class I carriers as well as easy access to I-80 and I-29.

Commodities handled at the terminal include lumber, steel, shingles, ethanol, corn oil, and grain. The 5-acre site has 15 railcar spots and IAIS can build and disassemble unit trains. Services provided at the terminal include the handling of bulk (dry/liquid) and breakbulk products – 36k lb. forklift capacity, outdoor storage, and local trucking services.

Click here for more information.

“Iowa Interstate Railroad is proud to partner with Watco by providing safe, efficient service to the Council Bluffs Transload Facility and by improving supply chain options to the Omaha area.” -Joseph Parsons