The North Carolina State Department of Transportation announced today it has reached an agreement with CSX regarding the building and operation of the facility.
DOT said in a news release the facility is expected to help industry get products to customers and spur growth in the region
“This facility will make Eastern North Carolina even more attractive to businesses looking to grow by offering a logistical solution to industry shipping challenges,” said DOT Secretary Jim Trogdon. “We are pleased to help bring this intermodal facility to Eastern North Carolina.”
The facility, known as the Carolina Connector, will be built on the CSX mainline and CSX will run it.
DOT will invest up to $118.1 million for site development and roadway construction.
DOT conducted an economic impact evaluation in early June and determined the facility will have an indirect job impact of up to 1,300 jobs.
Once the contract is executed, site development work will begin with an anticipated completion date of 2020.
Originally, CSX intended to build what is called a “hub and spoke” intermodal facility in Edgecombe County.
Last November CSX put those plans on hold as the company reassessed its long-term business model. Since then, North Carolina officials have remained in contact with CSX to ensure the North Carolina site remained in consideration.
The newly envisioned site will be a traditional intermodal site. The 330-acre site will allow trucks to bring cargo containers to a rail yard where they will be transferred to trains for transport. This facility will serve many industries with efficient access to rail.
“Getting products to the customer is paramount to any business’s success,” said Carolinas Gateway Partnership CEO and President Norris Tolson. “We at the Carolina Gateway Partnership are pleased that the CCX intermodal site will provide another vital link in the logistics solutions offered for our customer base in the Twin Counties and all of Eastern North Carolina. Edgecombe and Nash counties will now truly be a gateway to markets throughout the eastern part of the U.S.”
The project was scored and evaluated per North Carolina’s data-driven process that allows DOT to invest available funds more efficiently and effectively to enhance the state's infrastructure, while supporting economic growth, job creation and a higher quality of life.
Halifax County Economic Development Director Cathy Scott said today when the project was first announced “we updated our marketing materials. Along Highway 301 we have sites along that rail, sites that would benefit from an intermodal facility. Even though it’s scaled back, it’s going to have a significant benefit.”
Scott said the facility will improve connectivity for companies to market and will benefit companies which only occasionally need rail. “It could be be a tremendous cost benefit.”
While the push for an Amtrak station in Weldon was never pulled from consideration when CSX balked with the initial intermodal facility, Scott said the state Department of Transportation has applied to the federal Department of Transportation to build a new lane of traffic across the abandoned trestle over the Roanoke River in Weldon. “It appears to be sound,” Scott said, explaining there will be the need for extra track with the building of the intermodal facility. “The most recent conversations with DOT is they will apply for funds. I think this is going to help the feasibility of these funds being approved.”
Meanwhile, Scott said today’s announcement will most likely mean a rejuvenation of regional discussions occurring before CSX decided to not go forward with the initial project. “This is of tremendous benefit to Weldon and Halifax County. We’re a regional economy. We’re intrinsically tied to Rocky Mount. Building a regional economy is how we survive. We will re-add the facility to market. We’re going to send it to clients and use it as a marketing tool for sure.”