With CHP gone, Grass Valley DMV looks ahead to its own new facility | TheUnion.com

With CHP gone, Grass Valley DMV looks ahead to its own new facility

The Union archives: Photo by John Hart
John R. Hart ” | The Union archives

One of the larger first steps has been taken in the process to rebuild the Grass Valley headquarters of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and architects continue to work on the $7.8 million project; they are about halfway done with their drawings toward an unspecified bidding period, a spokeswoman said.

“The current schedule reflects completion in November 2015,” said Jan Mendoza in an email to The Union. “Working drawings are 50 percent complete. Until we have completed drawings, we do not have a firm schedule for bidding or construction start.”

The DMV’s plan calls for approximately 7,600 gross square feet of office space on its current site off Highway 49 and Brunswick Road on Sutton Way, where the agency has shared space with the California Highway Patrol for the last 40 years until its officers moved into a new 16,800-square-foot facility in April on McCourtney Road, across from the Nevada County fairgrounds.

The DMV only occupies less than 1,900 gross square feet on the western portion of the state-owned building. The CHP had occupied the eastern 5,000-square-foot of the nearly 1.5-acre Sutton Way site, making use of several portable structures.

Earlier this month, CHP Lt. Jeff Arnswald described its former facility as “antiquated and outdated,” noting that it simply wasn’t adequate to house the 25 uniformed officers and three staff members, during a tour of its new facility.

“It was the Grass Valley mystery house,” Arnswald said, noting that officers had been shoehorned into many spaces originally intended only for storage at its old site. The DMV’s assessment of the facilities mirrors the CHP’s in several ways.

“This particular field office was built in 1970, so you can imagine it is pretty antiquated in terms of any kind of energy efficiency,” Mendoza told The Union in a phone interview Wednesday.

In the initial project’s description documents, the existing DMV facility is described as undersized and noncompliant with current California Building Codes.

Fewer than 10 employees work in Grass Valley’s DMV field office, serving an average of 269 customers per day, according to the department. Services provided by employees include driver’s license renewal, identification cards, written driving tests, road tests, vehicle registration, titling and issuing identification plates.

No demolition to the existing building will occur until the new facility on the back half of the lot is complete and staff has moved over, according to the DMV.

One of the site improvements to the grounds includes the addition of approximately 50 parking spaces, as noted in the project’s environmental impact documents.

“That’s been an issue at a lot of our field offices,” Mendoza said.

Other improvements include a motorcycle drive test area, updated aesthetics, site lighting and a larger, more comfortable waiting area for customers.

“It’s basically improving the overall experience at our field offices for our customers,” Mendoza said.

The project’s environmental review period ended in September 2012. DMV officials garnered state Department of Finance approval in January to proceed to construction. As architects finalize their drafts, DMV representatives expect to meet with Nevada County environmental and Grass Valley officials to flesh out plans, including the removal of an underground storage tank that was installed in 2000.

“The current estimate is that this project may go out to bid around summer of 2014,” Mendoza noted. “However, it is a bit premature to know.

“This one is still in the beginning stages,” she said.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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