NC approves $100 million in funding for CSX project

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A rail hub project originally targeted for Johnston County has scored well enough in a state review to qualify for $100 million in funding, CSX and the state Department of Transportation have confirmed.

The shipping terminal was announced in January, and securing funding was a key contingency.

But, the DOT said, “The ultimate programming of any funds is dependent upon local elected officials and CSX agreeing on a viable location for the project.”

Otherwise, the funds would go to other projects.

The project has run into opposition in Johnston County and Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced about two weeks after the initial announcement that the original site was not viable.

Still, the decision by the state was a positive step for the project.

“CSX is pleased to learn the Carolina Connector (CCX), a critical infrastructure project, was recommended for Strategic Transportation Investment (STI) program funding,” said CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay. “We applaud the State, legislature and NCDOT for their vison in creating this innovative, merit-driven infrastructure investment program to help attract transformative projects like CCX to N.C.”

Whether the project eventually lands in Johnston County remains uncertain.

“Everything’s on hold because we don’t know what’s going to happen next. And nobody’s really given us any explanation, nobody from CSX. It’s all hearsay,” said Ken Westbrook of Four Oaks.

The county commissioners had raised concerns about the use of eminent domain on property owners.

When it was first announced, officials said the hub would create between 250-300 short-term jobs and 1,500 long-term jobs.

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