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Selma’s depot repairs are in a holding pattern

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SELMA — Much-needed repairs to Selma’s historic Union Station will have to wait.

With revenue down because of the state’s stay-at-home order, the N.C. Department of Transporation says it doesn’t have the money to make the repairs it promised.

“Never in the history of NCDOT has there been such an immediate and sustained decline in revenue,” said Eric Boyette, the department’s secretary. “We need revenue to begin putting people back to work across North Carolina.”

The DOT gets its money from the state’s Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and Division of Motor Vehicles fees. With people driving less, those taxes and fees are down $300 million in the current fiscal year, and the DOT expects another $370 million shortfall in the budget year that starts July 1.

A 2018 DOT study had placed Selma’s train station on a priority list for repairs.

“We’ve known for a while the Selma-Smithfield Depot needed some tender loving care,” said Selma Manager Steven Hicks said. “We identified some maintenance needs, and those key maintenance needs were roof repair, parking lot, signage and lighting.”

The town and DOT then agreed on $466,000 in repairs, with the DOT paying all but $52,363.

In addition to fixing the roof, the money will:

• Repair and paint the depot’s interior walls and ceiling.

• Repair the building’s restrooms.

• Repair or replace the heating and cooling system.

• Repair and stripe the parking lot.

• Install signage.

• Convert building’s lighting to LED.

The Selma Town Council approved the agreement in principle on May 12; the DOT board did so on May 7.

But because revenue is down $300 million, the DOT isn’t signing any new agreements, meaning the depot repairs are in a holding pattern. Under state law, if the DOT falls below its cash floor of $293 million, it can no longer enter into new contracts.

Selma is going to have to be patient, said Hicks, the town manager. “We’re just waiting for NCDOT to sign the agreement, which we’re optimistic about, and then once it’s signed, it’s going to take about 18 months to complete the project,” Hicks said.  “We’re definitely excited about it.”

The town will oversee the work, including design and construction.