WTSB News has learned Johnston County officials are working with the Town of Four Oaks and the State of North Carolina in hopes of finding an alternate site for the CSX Intermodal Rail Terminal near Four Oaks.
In an exclusive interview Friday with Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker, he confirmed the Town, County and state officials are working on possible land options for the rail hub. The land options will be presented to CSX Railroad for their review next week.
Mayor Parker said the town and county are searching for available land, not CSX. CSX will be given the information local officials gather sometime next week.
“We are excited about the opportunity to work with citizens, community, public officials, the railroad and county officials to bring jobs and economic opportunity to Four Oaks, Johnston County, and Eastern North Carolina,” Mayor Parker said in the exclusive interview.
On Jan. 14th, CSX announced plans for a 450-acre terminal adjacent to I-95 between Selma and Micro, known as the Carolina Connector or “CCX”. The location was immediately met with opposition by landowners who did not want to sell their property or businesses. As a result of the overwhelming dissatisfaction from those property owners, county commissioners met Jan. 20th and announced they were pulling support for the project at the current location, but wanted to work with the railroad to find another viable site in Johnston County.
One or more potential sites have reportedly been located near Four Oaks. Parker would not disclose the sites being considered. Whether CSX will consider Four Oaks for the terminal remains uncertain.
Wherever it is located, the terminal will create 250-300 short-term construction jobs. After completion, it would create 300 permanent jobs with an average salary of $60,000. As many as 1,500 jobs would be created by the regional rail hub including truck drivers and workers at distribution centers that locate near the hubs.
“We support and understand that the property owners of the original site do not want to sale their land and it was never anyone’s intention to have unwilling property owners feel pressure from Project Officials,” according to Chris Johnson, Director of Economic Development. “However, the CSX project is still a great project and I would hate find out later that there was a willing land owner that could have assisted with this effort.”
Any property owner along the CSX line in Johnston County willing to sell their land is asked to contact the Johnston County Economic Development Office at 919-205-1232.
CSX Responds To Report
CSX told WTSB News Friday afternoon, they are aware some in Johnston County have initiated an ad hoc reselection process for their company. CSX said they have so far not been officially notified of those efforts and is not a participant. In a statement to WTSB from CSX a spokesperson said:
CSX remains focused on moving the CCX project forward. CSX conducted an extensive site selection process that included consultation with public officials. We continue to believe the current site has potential and that by working with the community we can address landowner concerns. This process is still in its earliest stages.
Conversations with landowners – many of them positive, county officials and residents will continue, and we will work to design a terminal that reflects the community’s feedback and local values.
CCX is committed to bringing 300 short term construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs with annual CSX salaries averaging more than $60,000 to Johnston County, plus more than 1,500 jobs across the state. CCX will deliver economic opportunity, critical infrastructure improvements and advantages for local business to the communities of Selma, Micro and beyond.
We look forward to further collaboration with state and local officials to pursue this transformational economic development project.