By Michael Davis
On a plot of land near Tanger Outlet Center, Henry County plans to build a 10,000-square-foot service center for the state Department of Motor Vehicle Safety.
On Monday, county commissioners awarded the $2.1 million contract to Headley Construction, a firm already handling other projects for the county.
The site, on 10 acres behind Tanger Outlet in Locust Grove, is five acres larger than originally planned, said Henry County Manager Linda Angus.
She told the board Monday the 10 acres bought for the facility would be used for future expansion of the facility or other county government uses, adding roughly $300,000 to the cost of the building.
She said the site's proximity to Interstate 75 and nearby shopping, played heavily in the county's decision to buy there and made it attractive to the DMVS.
DMVS spokeswoman Susan Sports said the "customer-friendly" facility would be modeled after other recently opened license centers in the metro Atlanta area.
"We see that when these new, modern facilities are built, even with the same number of staff (as older facilities), we see it's a more efficient process," she said.
The DMVS Director of Facilities Management, Waymond Henry, said the building would be exactly like the center in Gwinnett County, save for the color of the roof.
"We have set it up to be very customer-oriented and maximize the processing of customers through the facility," Henry said.
But while drivers on the south side are getting a testing facility and license renewal office, others may be losing what they have close to home in Forest Park.
Calling the aging building "functionally insufficient," Henry said that when the Locust Grove facility is opened, the DMVS office on Ga. Highway 85 in Forest Park is due to close if another, more modern building is not available in the area.
The modern DMV facilities, Henry said, are equipped with a Q-MATIC electronic queuing system that tracks and regulates customer service. Not only is a number given to each customer that comes in, a database collects information on why the customer was there, which examiner saw them, and how long the visit took, among other information. The system will also show the workload for each site in the state, Henry said.
Like other facilities, the Locust Grove office will have a basic driving skills course and a motorcycle testing course.
Henry estimated around 600 drivers a day would be serviced by the center when it opens. Sports estimated it would take about a year to build.
The DMV is looking at putting similar locations in Cherokee, Bartow and Bibb counties, Henry said, adding he hoped that a suitable location could be found in Clayton County.
"The population deserves it," he said.