ROCKY MOUNT — A planned CSX Corp. cargo hub for eastern North Carolina could be in jeopardy, but Gov. Roy Cooper and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield say they’ll keep pressing the railroad to invest and create jobs.
CSX announced last year a $160 million investment in the terminal near Rocky Mount to move railroad cars to delivery trucks. About 150 new jobs were expected, but state officials predicted many more.
Trains magazine, a railroad industry trade publication, reported Thursday that CSX is scrapping plans to build the Carolina Connector intermodal hub and plans to wind down operations at a similar facility in Ohio this month.
CSX has neither confirmed nor denied the publication’s report, which cited unnamed sources.
A CSX spokesman says the company is reviewing its intermodal business and would discuss any plan changes with “customers and relevant stakeholders.” He didn’t say whether the Carolina Connector had been halted.
Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat whose 1st Congressional District includes Rocky Mount, said in a Thursday statement he was disappointed to learn that the rail hub may not come to fruition.
“This project would have wide-ranging benefits, not only in Rocky Mount but throughout the state and region,” Butterfield said. “I truly hope the reports are not true and that CSX sees the value this investment would bring to the company, our community and state. I am committed to working with CSX to bring vital economic development to Rocky Mount.”
Cooper acknowledged Friday that CSX may now have a different plan but said he’d keep working to show Rocky Mount is right for the company. The state planned track and infrastructure improvements for the hub.
Wilson County expected to see some economic benefits from the regional project. Norris Tolson, president and CEO of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, told Wilson Rotary Club members in September that companies seeking locations near the rail hub would likely locate within a 50- to 75-mile radius of Rocky Mount.
Tolson said he worked with an unnamed Wilson business when the hub was in the development stages to see how much having the Carolina Connector in Rocky Mount would save the business.
“In his business, his early estimate was a savings of $1.5 million in freight costs a year,” Tolson said. “This is a big deal and the reason all these other counties will see benefits from this project.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.