The CSX Carolina Connector is Back on Track

The CSX Carolina Connector project in Eastern North Carolina was an exciting project that promised to make Rocky Mount, NC – site of a large Kanban Logistics distribution center – a key intermodal logistics hub.  We blogged about the project quite a bit but stopped writing about it because…well, its future became uncertain.  Fortunately, recent decisions at CSX have resurrected the project – or at least a new version of it – and it’s now full-speed ahead once again.

The CSX Carolina Connector project

csx carolina connectorOriginally announced in 2016, CSX had plans to create a new intermodal hub in Rocky Mount.  The project was nicknamed the “Carolina Connector,” and was designed to be a “hub and spoke” terminal that would reroute containers between North Carolina ports and regional trains and trucks for East Coast distribution.  It was great news for the state of North Carolina and for the regional economy.

Then, in late 2017, plans for the Connector were put on hold by CSX and the future of the project remained in doubt.  The company and the state of North Carolina continued to work together, however, and plans for a new version of the CSX Carolina Connector were announced in June 2018.

The scope of the project is smaller now than it was in 2016.  It is now a $160-million project that will be built on 330 acres – down from the original $270 million and 500 acres.  The centerpiece of the new project is a traditional intermodal campus where containers are brought to a rail yard and then transferred from truck to train.

The new operation is set to open in 2020 and will be able to handle up to 110,000 containers annually.

Logistics impact to the region

While the new Connector project is smaller in scope, it still provides a major boost to the region’s logistics infrastructure.  First and foremost, it provides more companies with access to reliable rail service.  This rail access allows companies to decrease their reliance on trucks as the driver shortage continues to worsen.  And, by reducing the need for trucks in their supply chains, companies will also enjoy significant savings in transportation and fuel costs, as well as carbon emissions.

In speaking about the Connector’s logistics importance, Edgecombe County Manager Eric Evans had this to say: “The reason why it’s so important because that’s the kind of facility that will draw in other businesses around it. Manufacturing operations around the world are all about making a profit. To make a profit they’ve got to cut costs, so being close to a facility like this reduces transportation costs significantly.”

Economic impact to the region

The CSX Carolina Connector should also provide a needed boost to the region’s job market.  In fact, the Carolina Connector is projected to indirectly result in the creation of 1,300 new jobs.  The number of direct jobs is still uncertain (the original project forecasted 300 direct, long-term positions with 150 of those employed by CSX).

The project also complements the tremendous growth spearheaded by companies in the same county (Edgecombe County) such as Triangle Tire (invested $580 million into the county and created 800 jobs) and Corning ($86 million and 149 jobs).

Turn to Kanban to take advantage of intermodal freight opportunities

Here at Kanban, we are elated that the Connector is moving forward again.  If you’re wondering about how your business can leverage this expanded infrastructure, let’s talk.  We offer over 1 million square feet of warehousing space in Eastern North Carolina, including a 175,000-square-foot facility right in Rocky Mount – less than 7 miles from where CSX’s new hub is being built.  Kanban’s Rocky Mount warehouse operates within a general-purpose foreign trade zone (FTZ), is already served by CSX rail, and has rail siding and a transload yard.

Our Rocky Mount campus also has a pad in place for the construction of a new facility, giving you the freedom to build and manage it as you see fit.  You can build a combined manufacturing plant/DC and have Kanban manage the DC; you can lease the new facility and have Kanban act as your 3PL partner; or you can simply build and run the new facility yourself.

To learn more about Kanban’s capabilities in the region, contact us today.