Eastern railroad CSX Corp. said yesterday it will build an intermodal terminal in eastern North Carolina that will connect the state to the CSX network and serve as the railroad's intermodal hub in the Southeast.
The $272 million project, to be located in Johnston County, about 50 miles from Raleigh, near Interstates 95 and 40, will be funded with $150 million from CSX and a proposed $100 million in infrastructure funds tentatively set aside in the state budget. Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX said the project's fate depends on securing the $100 million in state funding. The rest of the funds will come from state programs already in place, CSX said.
The project, named the "Carolina Connector," is set for completion by 2018, with operations slated to begin in 2019, CSX said on its website.
The proposed facility is expected to mirror the hub-and-spoke operating model used at CSX's intermodal hub in North Baltimore, Ohio, in the state's Northwest corner. Opened in 2011, the North Baltimore facility is the pivot of a hub-and-spoke operation, where freight arriving from nationwide points is transferred to double-stack trains for delivery throughout the East. It enables shippers to bypass the notorious "choke point" of Chicago, and thus can reduce transit times by up to two days between West Coast ports and distribution centers in the Ohio Valley, CSX officials said. The facility is structured to enable CSX to serve markets that lack the density to justify the startup costs of point-to-point service.
Larry Gross, president of Gross Transportation Consulting and a senior consultant and partner at consultancy FTR, said in an e-mail yesterday that CSX has needed an intermodal hub along the I-95 corridor in the Southeast, and a similar facility between Chicago and Atlanta. Gross declined comment on yesterday's announcement, saying he had to do further analysis on the proposed project.