DMV unveils new field office in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

DMV unveils new field office in Grass Valley

Nevada County's new Department of Motor Vehicles building opened for business on Feb. 26, nearly three years after its '70s-era office at 890 Sutton Way closed down.

In the interim, customers had been served at a temporary office just a few blocks away, at 435 Sutton Way. That space turned out to be in use quite a bit longer than anticipated, however. When construction of the new facility began, in mid-2015, the project was slated to open within two years.

"The record amount of rainfall last spring contributed to the delay," said DMV spokeswoman Cristina Valdivia Aguilar on Tuesday. "There were unknown site conditions which also contributed to the delay."

The DMV began planning to replace its former facility in 2013, after the California Highway Patrol, the owner of the building, moved into new digs on McCourtney Road. The DMV and CHP had shared the space, and the CHP transferred the land to the DMV after its move.

"This particular field office was built in 1970, so you can imagine it is pretty antiquated in terms of any kind of energy efficiency," a DMV spokesman told The Union at the time.

The old DMV facility was described as undersized at less than 2,000 square feet, and noncompliant with current California Building Codes.

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The new facility, in contrast, is 8,210 square feet with more parking and better circulation in the parking lot, a larger lobby, more seating and a separate driver license testing area.

The price tag originally was estimated to be in the $6 million ballpark and was subsequently revised to $8.3 million. The money came from the motor vehicle account, which is funded by registration and driver's license fees, a DMV spokesman said.

"The final cost was within the approved budgeted amount of $8.3 million," Aguilar said.

The new facility incorporates solar panels, as well as other energy-efficient features, to achieve Net Zero Energy — meaning the office will produce as much or more energy as it uses.

Some work at the site still is being wrapped up.

"As with most construction projects, there are punch list items that need to be completed by the contractor, and they are also completing the installation of the perimeter fence," Aguilar said. "We anticipate having these finished within the next 60 days."

The new building has more space for customers. But as some customers already have noted, the sometimes-interminable wait times have not changed much.

"Staffing did not increase," Aguilar said. "However, workflow and service levels will be re-evaluated once the management and staff have acclimated to the new, more efficient design, and adjustments will be made as deemed necessary. Customers are strongly encouraged to make an appointment, as appointments are typically served within 20 minutes."

To make an appointment, call 1-800-777-0133 or go online at http://www.dmv.ca.gov,

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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