Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration said late Tuesday that the Johnston County site where CSX wants to build a railroad hub “does not appear to be a viable option.”
The announcement came six days after the Johnston County Board of Commissioners stated its opposition to CSX’s proposed site between Selma and Micro.
“Based on the vote of local officials as well as serious land issues, the current site in Johnston County does not appear to a viable option,” McCrory spokesman Graham Wilson said. “We will continue to work with CSX to explore alternative sites in order to create jobs and enhance our state ports.”
The governor’s concerns were a marked reversal from his initial support for the $272 million project, dubbed CCX, or the Carolina Connector.
When it was first announced Jan. 14, McCrory said in a statement that “CCX will maximize both public and private investments for economic development and job creation.”
CSX planned to spend $150 million building the facility, and seek $100 million from North Carolina’s State Transportation Improvement Program, which funds highway and other transportation projects.
Freight cargo on trains and tucks would pass through the intermodal container facility to be routed towards their final destinations.
Company and local officials initially praised the impact the hub could have on North Carolina, believing companies would build distribution centers in the region to cut shipping costs.
But local public support for the project has dissipated as officials learned how CSX went about alerting landowners who would be affected by the 450-acre project.
Despite spending three years to decide on Selma for the project, CSX did not contact landowners until the day of the announcement, each with a knock on the door and an offer to buy.
“Let me be crystal clear: This board does not support the site that has been selected,” Tony Braswell, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, said last week. “We believe this project could be a great benefit to the county, but we’re not going to do it at the expense of the citizens we represent.”
Last week, CSX officials reiterated the company’s consideration of other states and counties for its container hub, suggesting it may move on from the Johnston County site.
County officials began searching for alternative sites within Johnston County, but CSX has said it is not participating in and does not support that search, believing the chosen location in Selma is best.
Staff writer David Bracken contributed.
Jackson: 919-553-7234, ext. 104; @jdrewjackson