Thursday, March 30, 2023

NC Ports, rail advancement contributing to national supply chain solutions

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at the Carolina Connector. (Courtesy Billy Barrier, NCDOT)

WILMINGTON — The governor’s office is touting the success of the $158-million Carolina Connector in Edgecombe County as it is already closing gaps in the national supply chain, in part by bridging the Port of Wilmington to new markets.

Located in Rocky Mount, the intermodal transportation facility launched operations in November, nearly three years after ground first broke. Across the 330-acre site, trucks pick up loads of cargo containers filled with sweet potatoes, pork and poultry or deliver furniture, clothing, lumber and other exports. Its three zero-emission electric cranes have the capability to raise 110,000 containers annually, repositioning them onto trains.

Through the opening of the connector, NC Ports was able to start the Wilmington Midwest Express, a new daily service moving goods toward the midwest. It’s a five-day trip to Chicago and Northwest Ohio and a seven-day connection to St. Louis. The route is said to cut back on emissions and save customers on transit costs.

“The Wilmington Midwest Express positively impacts our customers by providing a direct connection between shippers and consumers,” Brian Clark, executive director of NC Ports, said in a news release from the governor’s office. “With supply chain issues impacting ports across the United States, this new service provides a sense of relief for customers through the expedited delivery of goods to their final destination.”

In 2017 the Port began employing the Queen City Express. It was the first time in three decades the Port connected to intermodal rail. The route moves goods to and from Charlotte every day.

Officials are also pleased to see the new terminal is playing a role in relieving congestion at the Port of Savannah. which has garnered national attention for contributing to supply chain challenges across the U.S. It is taking three times as long as it did pre-pandemic to unload cargo ships. The Georgia Ports Authority is creating pop-up container yards to free up space and get goods moving. As part of that, it is delivering containers to the CCX Yard in Rocky Mount, using up to 400 container slots.

“We’re already seeing benefits from the Carolina Connector,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in the release. “The facility is helping to quickly and affordably get products to shelves across the region and building new interest from prospective industries looking to grow their businesses in North Carolina. That’s a win-win for our economy and shows the importance in smart investments in infrastructure.”

To make the project happen, the N.C. Department of Transportation invested $118 million for the construction of the terminal. Located on the CSX main rail line, the facility was partly funded and is operated by the Florida-based company, with a $40-million contribution.

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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at or on Twitter @alexsands_

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