By Shefali Konda
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles opened its Lexington location on Monday nearly a year after the pandemic shut it down.
The new DMV is in the Stonewall Square Shopping Center and includes additional customer service windows and an updated countertop design to serve customers more efficiently.
State Del. Ronnie Campbell, R-24th District, said he pushed for the renovations after hearing many complaints from his constituents. Campbell represents parts of Amherst and Augusta counties, Bath and Rockbridge counties, and Buena Vista and Lexington.
“I’ve had some people tell me they’ve gone clean down to Roanoke or Lynchburg to get to a DMV office,” Campbell said. “The coronavirus has created a really bad situation and the people have had to try to adjust to it. Having an office here in Rockbridge that is open to make appointments right in the county, that’s a great improvement.”
Brandy Brubacker, the state DMV’s public relations manager, said the Lexington office is operating on an appointment-only basis to accommodate social distancing. That means there will be nearly 70 appointment opportunities each day.
Campbell said the process to reopen took nearly a year. He said he talked to the DMV commissioner for months before finalizing a contract, negotiating the lease for the space in the shopping center and starting construction.
“I had to keep quiet all this time, and even as they were constructing it, I decided not to say anything about it because the coronavirus was in full swing and everyone was already very aggravated about that,” Campbell said. “I’ve just been sitting around for about a year knowing that it’s coming and not being able to talk about it, and I’m just glad it’s finally here.”
Buena Vista resident Elaine Grady said she thinks the new DMV is an improvement over the last location, which was about a half-mile away on Walker Street.
“I remember it [the old DMV] was just this old, stuffy building and I waited like almost two hours to get my license renewed. It was a giant pain, if I’m being honest,” she said.
Campbell said the new facility was tailored to address the concerns of residents in Rockbridge County.
“The old location was full of people waiting to be waited on,” he said. “This new office is twice the size of the other office. When it goes back to full operation, it’ll be able to serve more people a day than the other one did.”
Campbell said the number of customer representatives has increased from three to eight.
The DMV office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for certain in-person services, according to the website.