A gateway. A pedestrian link. A network connector.
A recovery opportunity
There is no question the cities of Gastonia and Lowell and Gaston County’s Lineberger Connector project is an important economic engine for this region of North Carolina, the surrounding property owners, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Given the devastating impact the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had on the region through the loss of textiles, it is easy to understand why these communities have placed so much emphasis on making the Lineberger Connector a priority as a solution to boost the economic vitality in this part of Gaston County.
The recession, following NAFTA’s ratification in 1994, negatively impacted this region of North Carolina. Between 1995 and 1999, NAFTA caused the closing of the seven (7) largest industrial utility customers (textiles) and a total of 54 manufacturing plants that resulted in the loss of more than 7,500 jobs. In 2000, additional plant closures impacted local tax and utility revenues even more—resulting in more than $70 million in lost revenues just in water/wastewater revenue. At the end of 2000, Gaston County had lost more than 13,000 jobs. To date, the economic engines within Gaston County, NC, a federally Designated Opportunity Zone, have only been able to recover to 45% of its pre-NAFTA economic glory in the early 1990’s, leaving the county far behind what it once was.
The City of Gastonia, in conjunction with the City of Lowell and Gaston County, seek $18,110,358 (60%) in BUILD Discretionary Grant funds to complete the $29,934,938 package needed to implement the Lineberger Connector project between the two communities. The City of Gastonia has committed a combination of matching funds from both local and private sources in the amount of $11,824,580 (40%).
The Lineberger Connector is the construction of a new roadway network from Cox Road to the west to NC Highway 7 to the north that opens up access to close to 400 acres of infill property with superior access to the I-85 corridor. As a part of this project, an improved at-grade crossing over the Norfolk Southern Railroad will be implemented just south of the proposed connection to NC 7. In addition, utility connections will be made and carried throughout the proposed roadway network.
More specifically, the Lineberger Connector Project consists of the following:
- Aberdeen Boulevard Extension (7,200 LF)
- 3-lane collector street
- Lineberger Road Relocation (3,500 LF)
- 3-lane collector street
- Scalybark Road Extension (1,600 LF)
- 2-lane industrial collector street
- Norfolk Southern Railroad Crossing Improvement
- Aberdeen Boulevard and Cox Road Intersection Improvements
- Right Turn/Thru Lane Addition and Return Modifications
- Water Line Extensions (5,210 LF)
- Sewer Line Extension (4,715 LF)
- Electric Extensions (67,000 LF of underground cable)
- Broadband Extensions (22,300 LF of fiber).
The Charlotte Metro region is one of the fastest growing areas in North Carolina and the United States. The Lineberger Connector will unlock property that is prime for local and regional development. With NorthPoint Development committed to the project, a fully cooperative landowner, and both public and private support, the Lineberger Connector project will stimulate approximately $322.5 million in project value for the Greater Gaston area, assisting these communities to recover from the negative impact of NAFTA and loss of textiles.
There is a strong partnership between the cities of Gastonia and Lowell, Gaston County, and the property owner, and NorthPoint Development is under contract to purchase ~400 acres between NC Highway 7 to the north, I-85 to the south, Cox Road to the west, and North Main Street to the east. This property is perfectly situated between exits 21 and 22 of I-85. The development will include over 4,693,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing, distribution center, industrial, and warehousing facilities. With the current events of COVID-19 highlighting just how critical our nation’s supply chain is, the proposed development will provide modern warehouse space that will support growth and development for several sectors including e-commerce, manufacturing, reshoring companies and anticipated changes in the supply chain.
An economic impact study has been completed for the proposed development which estimates a total of 10,181 permanent new jobs (direct & indirect) with a total annual compensation of $462,545,507. This will increase the total number of jobs in Gaston County more than 10%.
The Lineberger Connector project will be an economic transformation for the region
2020 BUILD Application - Lineberger Connector