03/04/05 — State should develop ports and railroads, says logistics expert

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State should develop ports and railroads, says logistics expert

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 4, 2005 2:11 PM

North Carolina is missing out on billions of dollars by failing to develop its ports and railroad system, a logistics expert told Wayne County transportation officials Thurs-day.

"We need to create a new container port or just put out a 'Do Not Ship' sign in North Carolina," said Earl F. Brinkley Sr.

Brinkley, a Wallace native, was formerly the director of worldwide logistics for the John Deere Tractor and Implement Co. He now owns Accu-Track Logistics LLC of Wallace. He spoke Thursday at a meeting of the Wayne County Transportation Committee, which includes representatives from the county Board of Commissioners, the Goldsboro City Council and other municipalities.

Goldsboro could become an inland port for ocean cargo, Brinkley said, by developing the Morehead City port and improving inland transportation.

"When I was a logistics director, we couldn't use the ports in North Carolina, except when goods were exported to Russia," he said. "I always wanted to find a way to improve the way products were transported throughout the state."

Brinkley said that a recent survey in "Logistics Today" magazine listed the ports in Savannah, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Fla., and Norfolk as among the 50 most "logistically friendly" cities in the nation.

Neither Morehead City nor Wilmington made the list, he said, but the Morehead port has one of the deepest channels on the East Coast and has the shortest distance to the sea.

"The port in Charleston is 10 miles from the sea," he said. "Morehead City is only four miles to the sea."

But getting to Morehead City or to Wilmington by land is more difficult than reaching some of the other ports on the list. Trucks must travel via U.S. 70 and 24 through town to the Morehead port, he said.

"And Wilmington has a similar problem. Since I-40 ends at the city limits, both 421 and the interstate travel through city streets to the port," he said.

Brinkley said that Wilmington was getting two percent of the general cargo on the East Coast, and that Morehead wasn't getting any.

He recommended that North Carolina create a deep channel container port in Morehead City for the larger ships, and let Wilmington focus on the smaller ship traffic.

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, he said, 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.

North Carolina has an inland terminal in Greensboro and one in Charlotte. Those serve mainly the western part of the state, but the state is lacking by not having one in the eastern section of the state, Brinkley said.

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

"We will lose billions of dollars and spend millions in incentives to get companies to locate in North Carolina," Brinkley said. "Doing this could create 164,000 jobs and $5.4 billion in wages."