As opposition mounts, Four Oaks awaits decision on CSX hub
Posted April 18, 2016 5:57 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2016 11:34 a.m. EDT
Four Oaks, N.C. — People opposed to a CSX cargo hub in Johnston County had their chance to speak out Monday evening.
Plans to build a $72 million cargo terminal, known as the Carolina Connector, in the town of Four Oaks have drawn concern from landowners who fear the project may mean they have to sell their property.
It was a full house at Monday night's meeting at Four Oaks Elementary School and speakers included U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon, who spoke against the project and was critical of elected officials who support the plan, which could require the use of eminent domain.
"The only function of a good government is to protect the individuals private property," Brannon said.
Four Oaks residents and town leaders are anxious to know if the hub will end up in Four Oaks, but Mayor Linwood Parker said city leaders have come as far as they can to influence a decision. They are now leaving it up to CSX and state leaders to determine what will happen next.
“I never believed the world would come to an end if this project did not come to Four Oaks and I never believed the streets would be paved in gold if it did,” said Parker in a statement. “Not matter what the result, we will get up and continue to move our town and community forward.”
In January, the Governor's Office declared that the previously proposed Selma site was "not a viable option" for the project.
Parker said he has met with the Department of Transportation, the state Department of Commerce, and Rep. Leo Daughtry to make them aware of mounting opposition to the project. However, Parker said he still supports the project, citing the Department of Commerce, which said it could bring some 8,000 jobs over the next five years and an additional 20,000 in 15 years.
“It had been my great hope that we could land it here and be able to hand that down to the future generations and give them an item that would put them a little ahead of the curve,” Parker said. “If our forefathers could have accomplished this, it was my belief we could too and thereby leave our children an opportunity to compete in the global economy.”
The Department of Commerce also said that the railroad has the potential to attract new industries, enhance opportunities for current businesses, and reduce congestion on major highways with trains carrying loads equivalent to 280 trucks.
Daughtry said he believes Four Oaks will have an answer about the future of the hub within days. He said the CSX project is considered to be the number one project for the DOT and qualifies for $100 million funding from the state.
The project would be a public/private partnership with $150 million invested by CSX.