CSX to break ground for rail hub in April
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Saturday, March 16, 2019
People are going to start seeing action soon at the site of CSX’s proposed intermodal rail facility across from N.C. Wesleyan College.
“We’ll break ground out there next month,” Carolinas Gateway Partnership President and CEO Norris Tolson said.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Andrew Barksdale said a ceremony is being planned at the site in April.
Although specifics of the ceremony are pending, a CSX spokesperson said the project, once started, is anticipated to take 18-20 months to complete.
The facility is going to be located off U.S. 301, across the railroad tracks in Edgecombe County.
When completed, the facility is going to be a place for freight trains to arrive, with the freight to be off-loaded onto other trains or trucks for distribution.
CSX, which is based in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2016 announced plans to build a facility but eventually put those plans on hold and reassessed the company’s business model.
In June, state transportation officials and CSX announced they had reached an agreement on a scaled-back facility.
Tolson said the original plan had been for approximately 450 acres, with five cranes, and said the revised plan is for approximately 330 acres, with three cranes and room for expansion.
CSX is planning to contribute at least $40 million to the project and the state Transportation Department is going to invest up to at least $118 million.
State transportation officials have said they believe the facility is going to have an indirect impact of up to 1,300 jobs.
As for how many are going to be working at the location, Tolson said, “They’re talking somewhere between 40 and 50 people” and noted, “It’s going to be a highly automated facility.”
He said CSX had analyzed the company’s rail system from Florida to Maine and had found a major distribution hole in North Carolina.
CSX had originally eyed Johnston County for the facility, but opposition from landowners surfaced.
Overall, Tolson said he and his team have always believed the project would be a great one for eastern North Carolina.
“See, the neat thing about CSX is that the Carolina Connector is going to be as big a deal for Halifax County as it is for Edgecombe County or for Wilson County or for Johnston County,” Tolson said.
“A lot of activity will pop up in and around that facility,” Tolson said, adding he believes the magic number is going to be 50-75 miles from the site.
“Everybody is going to benefit from this thing,” he said.
As for why he believes CSX picked the site off U.S. 301, he said, “Because we are the best place in the state to put it.”
He said with Raleigh being a fast-growth, high-retail area, CSX wanted a facility near the capital city.
“We were able to convince them that you can get to Raleigh quicker from Rocky Mount than you can from Selma,” he said.