12/08/04 — Wayne would far well with better rail service

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Wayne would far well with better rail service

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on December 8, 2004 2:01 PM

Better rail service would benefit both of North Carolina's ports and could pay off for Wayne County, a businessman told the Goldsboro Rotary Club Tuesday.

Earl F. Brinkley Sr., formerly director of worldwide logistics for the John Deere tractor and implement company, said that poor road connections are hurting the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City. Freight has to be trucked out through city streets and highways.

"Think about the truckers having to face congestion and stoplights," he said. "In the world of business, you have to be able to move products quickly."

Morehead City might otherwise be one of the major ports on the East Coast, he said. It has one of the deepest channels -- 47 feet -- and is only four miles from open seas.

The state could improve the ports' viability by building rail lines up to the docks, he continued. Freight containers could be taken off ships and loaded directly onto trains.

Brinkley suggested that freight from both ports could then be carried to an inland container yard, where it could be either shipped out on trains or transferred to trucks with easier access to interstate highways 95 and 40.

Wayne County would be a prime location for such a shipping center since it potentially could be at the crossroads of east-west and north-south rail lines serving the ports, he said. That assumes the state would restore tracks between Wallace and Castle Hayne.

The center could potentially benefit both Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the Global TransPark, he said.

Brinkley acknowledged that he has not done any in-depth studies of the viability of the proposal. "I'm just greenlighting here," he said.

Club member Tommy Jarrett told Brinkley that the ports have previously had a reputation of being unwilling to work together.

Brinkley does not know if that's still a concern, he said, but from a business perspective, the ports will need to cooperate to become more competitive with non-N.C. ports.

The N.C. Department of Transportation's rail division is reviewing a study commissioned by the ports. The study looks at how better rail service would benefit both the ports and eastern North Carolina. DOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett is expected to release that information within the next few weeks.

Brinkley, who now owns Accu-Track Logistics LLC of Wallace, was invited to speak to the club by Sanford "Sandy" Korschun, a Goldsboro businessman who is working for new or improved passenger, freight and commuter rail service in eastern North Carolina.