There has been a lot media buzz over the last week since the announcement by CSX over their Central Carolina Connector (CCX) intermodal hub in Johnston County. I would like to state my position, and I believe most of the business community’s position, regarding this project. Before I begin, I want to disclose that my partner in our law firm represents CSX. I am not involved in that matter. I am writing as a member of the General Assembly who knows the needs of our county very well. I am not running for re-election.
First of all, this is not a transportation project, CCX is an exceptional economic catalyst project. Secondly, CCX will not bring economic benefits only to Johnston County (or wherever its final location is) it will bring benefits to the eastern region of North Carolina and also to the entire state.
The proposed CCX intermodal hub is unlike anything that exists in the southeastern United States. CCX will be a true “connector” within the CSX railroad network. In many ways, this project can be compared to an airport hub like Charlotte, where many flights originate and are destined to each day. The CCX hub will perform the same function except for rail traffic. What this means is that North Carolina businesses will have very efficient access to a national transportation network for moving goods and products quickly and at a cost advantage.
These advantages will translate into an extremely competitive position to attract business. Distribution centers, warehouses, logistics consolidators will gravitate to the CCX hub as a preferred location to establish business. Manufacturers will view proximity to the CCX as a competitive advantage to distribute their products throughout the United States and also to receive supply parts for assembly. North Carolina wants to attract an auto manufacturer; a facility like CCX can make this a reality. These new businesses will add jobs and stimulus to our State and more importantly in rural areas where job creation is so desperately needed. It would do wonders for Kenly, Micro and Selma. Let’s also recognize that logistics related jobs are typically higher wage scale paying positions.
As I noted above, the CCX will benefit all parts of North Carolina. Our Port of Wilmington will have direct intermodal rail access to the hub. The ability to efficiently move imports and exports containers from Wilmington to the CCX will make our ports much more competitive and generate many more international supply chain choices for our North Carolina companies. No port in the southeast today will have this type of access to an intermodal hub to connect to the nation.
The CCX will also provide other benefits such as reduced truck traffic on our highways like I-95, I-85, and I-40. Each intermodal train will carry the cargo equivalent to about 280 truckloads, which will generate reductions in emissions and safety benefits.
In summary, the Central Carolina Connector will generate economic advantages for our businesses in and around the State, drive job growth, bring safety and environmental benefits and make our great State more competitive. Let’s encourage our elected officials to focus on this opportunity it’s our best chance to help Johnston County continue its path to higher paying jobs and bringing back our middle class.
Representative, N. Leo Daughtry
NC House of Representative