Rogerson: Cumberland would benefit from rail hub drawing opposition in Johnston County

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The president of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corp. said Wednesday that the major CSX rail hub project that has drawn criticism farther up Interstate 95 would be beneficial to the county.

"I would think this CSX-proposed intermodal project is good for North Carolina, it's good for Cumberland County, and it's good for the ports in North Carolina," the corporation's Russ Rogerson said. "And we would like to see it land in our state."

CSX is trying to find a place to build the proposed $272 million intermodal transportation terminal. The 500-acre hub would draw and reroute containers from East coast trains and trucks and from the state's ports in Morehead City and Wilmington while serving the Raleigh metropolitan area.

It appears the company has not settled on a building site.

"As far as we're aware," said Rogerson, "they're looking at Johnston County."

"If CSX was interested in extending it outside Johnston County," he said, choosing his words carefully during an interview, "we would certainly be interested in talking with them if it were an appropriate fit for our community."

CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay did not immediately return phone and email messages left Wednesday.

CSX Transportation owns and operates a vast network of rail lines east of the Mississippi River. As a prerequisite, Rogerson said, the site of the terminal must fall on the CSX A-line (north-south railroad line) that largely runs parallel with I-95.

The A-line runs through Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

"We really want this to be in North Carolina, particularly eastern North Carolina," he said. "We would benefit from it with close proximity."

On Jan. 14, CSX announced plans to build the rail terminal on land between Selma and Micro in Johnston County, estimating that it would create 250 to 300 construction jobs in the short term and, over time, up to 1,500 long-term jobs across the state. Micro is about 60 miles from Fayetteville.

But the announcement was met with strong opposition from Johnston County and state officials. Gov. Pat McCrory said the site was not "a viable option" due to the opposition coupled with serious land issues.

Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker has recommended an area in his community just off U.S. 301 in Johnston County. But on Monday, a reported 200 or more residents voiced concerns over its potential impact during a meeting at Four Oaks Elementary School. Four Oaks is about 40miles from Fayetteville.

In a Jan. 14 news release, CSX said the project in Johnston County "will spur economic development in the region and help position eastern North Carolina as a major transportation logistics hub. The proposed intermodal rail terminal, the Carolina Connector, or CCX, will be a state-of-the-art facility that will create distinct competitive advantages for North Carolina businesses and ports while serving the metro-Raleigh area - one of the South's largest and fastest growing markets."

Staff writer for Fayetteville Observer Michael Futch can be reached at futchm@fayobserver.com or 486-3529.

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