Tire plant site work nears end


Staff Writer

Monday, September 24, 2018

A green field at the 1,449-acre Kingsboro Megasite in Edgecombe County has been transformed in preparation for construction of the massive state-of-the-art Triangle Tire plant, which will ultimately produce six million passenger or light truck tires and one million commercial truck tires annually.

Triangle Tire USA is the wholly owned subsidiary of Triangle Tyre Co. Ltd. The estimated $580 million project is projected to create 800 jobs in Edgeceombe County.

Oppie Jordan, vice president of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership who recruits for Edgecombe County, said the state Department of Transportation and Barnhill Contracting Co. in Rocky Mount are in the late stages of getting the pad site ready so the Chinese tire company can start the process of construction.

In February, DOT officials said, the agency awarded a progressive-design-build contract to Barnhill Contracting Co. The first phase of the contract included $12.9 million to do grading and site development on about 200 acres. 

“We’re right on the verge of being able to take a portion of that site to Triangle so they can start to put in the foundations, footings, columns and start to build something,” said Norris Tolson, president and CEO of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership. “I believe we will see Triangle actually make some physical construction activity on that site before the first of November. One of the advantages about Eastern North Carolina is you usually got a long building cycle where the weather is going to be good to build something.”

Both Jordan and Tolson praised DOT and Barnhill for the work they’ve done at the site. With the hurricane looming, DOT, Barnhill and Triangle officials worked together to try to prevent any issues from the rain to impact the site. 

Triangle officials were pleased that the land on which the factory is to be built is free of water following the deluge from Hurricane Florence. The drainage worked perfectly and holding ponds did not overflow. Earlier this year, Tolson said several days of rain produced 13 inches of water at the site, which resulted in crews creating the drainage and holding ponds to make sure the site didn’t become a mudhole.

Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon praised the work being done when he and other DOT officials toured the site this past summer.

“We’re excited to see progress being made on what promises to be one of the most technologically advanced tire plants in the world,” said Triangle Tire USA CEO Manny Cicero. “We’re also pleased to be making good progress on developing relationships with some of the industry’s top distributors and dealers.”

Triangle announced that funding has been secured and the first phase, a passenger/light truck manufacturing facility, is expected to be completed by April 2020. In June, Ding Yuhua, executive chairman and director of the board for Triangle, passed away. Tolson said Ding’s initial vision was to have the first phrase up and and operational by the end of the fourth quarter of 2019.

The second phase will be a commercial truck tire factory and the timeline is to have that operational by the end of 2021 or early 2022. The factories will share a rubber mixing facility.

Jordan said she and local community college officials recently went to China to help begin designing a training manual or customized programs for Triangle.

In addition to Triangle, Jordan said, Corning should have crews starting work in October at the 150-acres site at the intersection of U.S. 64 Alternate and Dunbar Road with the expectation to be up and running by September or October 2019. Corning has plans to build an $86 million state-of-art warehouse facility in Edgecombe County and create about 120 jobs.

Tolson added CSX and DOT officials are involved in a joint permitting process and should start construction on the intermodal transportation facility by early next year. The Carolina Connector, or CCX, will be built on the CSX mainline and ran by CSX.

The deal has the DOT investing up to $118.1 million for site development for the railhub that will be built in Edgecombe County and roadway construction. The DOT conducted an economic impact evaluation in early June and determined the facility will have an indirect job impact of up to 1,300 jobs. The CCX is expected to begin operations in 2020.