By Ed Brock
From the front door of their new home Jeremy and Michelle Hughes can see the "Taj Mahal" of driver's license testing facilities.
Construction is well under way on the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety's new $1.8 million facility on Tanger Boulevard in Locust Grove.
"It is on schedule," said Susan Sports, DMV spokeswoman.
With about 10,000 square feet, the new facility, scheduled to open in late September, will be very modern and efficient, DMVS Director of Facilities Management Waymond Henry said.
There will be an information counter where visitors will make their first stop to make sure they have the proper paperwork before they get in line, Henry said. And the Q-MATIC computerized queuing system that will be installed in the building will allow the building manager to track where each customer is in the system, who is helping them and how long it is taking.
Sports described it as a "Taj Mahal" of such facilities.
That's good news for Jeremy and Michelle Hughes.
"It will be easy to get our licenses changed if we have to," said 24-year-old Jeremy Hughes, adding that he thinks having the facility so close will also add to the value of his home.
Michelle Hughes said they bought their house in Tanger Ridge subdivision because it's close to everything, including the Tanger Outlet Mall that is also visible from her front yard.
"They're building a new Super Wal-Mart right up here, too," said 28-year-old Michelle Hughes.
Meanwhile, Clayton Count officials are still pondering the possibility of arranging for a new facility of their own. The existing structure in Forest Park is wholly inadequate to the DMVS's needs, Sports said, but currently there are no plans to close it.
"It would be ideal if we could find another location," Sports said.
Clayton County is still working on finding that new location, Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said. Bell said he is very interested in the project.
"I certainly don't want our citizens in Clayton County driving all the way to Henry County to get their driver's licenses," Bell said.
Other changes are on the way to increase the ease with which Georgians can obtain or update their driver's licenses, thanks to House Bill 501.
For one thing, drivers will be able to chose a five-year or a 10-year license, and they should be getting discounted fees soon as an incentive to renew online or by mail, Sports said.
"The details are still being worked out," Sports said.