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'Another slap in the face' | Small business owners worried about possible rail strike

Thirty percent of U.S. domestic cargo is transported by rail, according to lawmakers. Some experts worry a strike could result in even more supply chain problems.

WASHINGTON — Local small businesses are preparing for the consequences that could result from a possible freight rail strike.

Freight rail transports make up 30% of U.S. domestic cargo, according to lawmakers on Capital Hill. The Department of Transportation adds almost half of the items those trains carry are consumer products.

If national railroad companies like CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern do not come to an agreement with all the labor unions that operate their rail systems, freight transports could be heavily impacted across the country.

Jennifer Hoang owns Sprig and Sprout restaurant in D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood.

She said her business is still dealing with the supply chain issues created by the pandemic. Hoang said she does not want another obstacle thrown in her business’ way.

“It’s like, 'oh my gosh, it’s another slap in the face,'” she said.

Hoang added her business would be directly impacted if there were disruptions on national freight rail lines.

“A lot of our products come from Asia, which are shipped through the ports of California, and then the trains come over here,” she said.

RELATED: Railroad strike looms closer: One union rejects deal, 2 accept ahead of deadline

One thing is for sure, if a strike does happen, the trucking industry won’t be able to pick up all the slack.

The American Trucking Association says if all 7,000 long-distance trains were to be idled in the country, the US would need an additional 460,000 long-haul trucks every day.  ATA President and CEO Chris Spear sent a letter to Congress saying that task is “not possible”.

In addition, the ATA says there’s already an existing shortage of 80,000 truckers on America’s highways.

Hoang said she’s hopeful the railroad dispute comes to a resolution before the strike deadline date of midnight Friday.

“We’re going to wait and see what happens,” she said.

RELATED: Railway strike would force VRE to shutdown

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