Local News

Ceremonial ground breaking held to kick off start of Rocky Mount cargo hub

Posted April 24, 2019 2:49 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2019 3:17 p.m. EDT

— State and local officials gathered Wednesday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a long awaited rail cargo hub that is expected to make it easier for companies to get their products to consumers while also helping to boost economic development in the region.

CSX Corp. has partnered with state and county development agencies to plan and build the 330-acre intermodal Carolina Connector hub, which will make it easier for cargo containers to be transferred from trucks to freight trains for distribution to other parts of the state and country.

“This is a great day for Rocky Mount and the twin counties," Gov. Roy Cooper said at the ceremony, which was held at the Gateway Technology Center on the campus of North Carolina Wesleyan College. ”I want a North Carolina where people are healthier, better educated and have more money in their pockets. Today, we are here to celebrate a great partnership.”

The project was originally announced in 2016, and officials touted it as a project that would bring up to 1500 jobs along with a multi-million dollar effort to revitalize the property and roads that lead to it.

Last year, officials scaled back their estimates of how much cargo volume the center would accommodate.

But officials said Wednesday that the center would still provide a shot in the arm for economic development in the area.

"I strongly believe that the Carolina Connector hub will have significant impact, not only on this region, but for the state of North Carolina," said Norris Tolson, CEO and president of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership, a public-private agency that works to foster economic development in in Nash and Edgecombe counties.

Plans call for the CSX facility to be located off U.S. Highway 301, across from the front entrance of the college in Edgecombe County.

According to authorities, CSX is expected to $40 million to the project, with the state's Transportation Department kicking in up to at least $118 million.

Construction is expected to start in June, and officials said they hope to have the rail hub open by 2020.

"We are committed from top to bottom to making this project a huge success," said James Foote, president and CEO of CSX.