By Tim Ryan

This week, at the Rotary Club of Newport News, we heard from Jody Lassiter. Jody Lassiter, a descendant of a historical figure from the Virginia Peninsula, captivated the audience with his deep-rooted connection to the area. He began by tracing the origins of CSX Railroad back to the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Railroad, founded in 1869 by Collis P. Huntington. The C&O was instrumental in connecting Richmond to Huntington, West Virginia, and later extending to Newport News, shaping the modern city we know today.

Fast forward to today, CSX has evolved into a transportation giant with an expansive network that goes beyond Virginia. With 20,000 route miles across 26 states, CSX interchanges with both classical and shortline railroads, connecting Newport News to the entire continent. “Newport News is connected across the continent as a result of our interchanges,” Lassiter emphasized, highlighting the economic impact of CSX on the area.

Lassiter also shared some eye-opening data points. With 604 employees in Virginia and a payroll exceeding $68.6 million, CSX significantly contributes to the state’s economy. He pointed out the importance of intermodal operations, particularly due to the Port of Virginia, one of the most active on the Eastern Seaboard.

But what’s next for CSX and Newport News? Lassiter revealed that CSX has announced $8.2 billion of investment across its system, with 90 facilities coming online in 2022. He also mentioned the Carlton Advanced Manufacturing site in Newport News as a candidate for CSX’s select site certification, a program that identifies prime locations for industrial development. This is a significant nod to the potential and promise that Newport News holds, making it a focal point for future growth and investment.

Jody Lassiter’s talk was a history lesson and a glimpse into a future filled with opportunities. As he concluded, it was clear that CSX isn’t just a railroad company; it’s a vital part of the community’s past, present, and future. So, the next time you hear the distant sound of a train horn, remember it’s not just a train passing by; it’s the sound of progress echoing through time.