UPDATE: DMV central office has reopened

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Good news if you need a new driver's license.  After two weeks, the main DMV on West Broad Street reopened Thursday morning at 8 a.m.

There was a steady flow of people coming to the center all day and everything was running smoothly. There were even balloons set up, confusing people on whether they were at the DMV, or at a birthday party!

Employees and customers all told us on Thursday, it was a relief to have the DMV back open again. "Very fast. Very nice. Very organized," said one of the first customers.

DMV leaders say during the two weeks the center was closed, the number of people who used the web increased. In fact, looking at statewide numbers, there was an increase of 46% in the number of people who renewed their drivers license online this year, compared to the same two weeks last year.

Crews put the finishing touches on their repairs Wednesday, getting ready for the more than 500 customers the office usually serves daily.

Our sneak peak of the repaired office actually comes a full week earlier than expected. Spokesperson Melanie Stokes explained the unexpected closure allowed contractors to make some upgrades.

"Most of the ceiling tiles were damaged but not all," she said. "So instead of trying to match the existing ones we went ahead and replaced this entire center section with brand new ceiling tile. The big globe lights were dismantled, taken down, scraped, cleaned and boy do they look nicer now."

The back area also looks a little different. There used to be a counter top along the wall. Now there are more chairs so customers can be more comfortable while they wait.

"The counter tops were replaced as well as these front panels for the entire length," Stokes said.

Replacements for the six aging couplings that join water pipes were also included in the repairs. One of them was responsible for all the damage. We're told the new ones are less likely to fail.

The DMV estimates the repairs at about $165,000. Most of the cost will be covered by insurance. That's something Melvin Lane, who tried to get a copy of his driving record Wednesday, was happy to hear.

"What happens, happens," he said. "You can't undo it. You just have to take it all in stride the best we can."

Customers had to visit one of the five other locations within a ten mile radius while the central office was closed. Stokes explained they're actually lucky the break happened here. Had it been in the Bristol office, customers would have to travel 45 minutes to the next closest DMV.

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