MERCED — Construction began Monday for a $200,000 renovation project at the DMV office in Merced, an upgrade that will shut the agencys doors for the next seven weeks.
Open since 1975, the West 12th Street site hasnt seen any major restorations, according to DMV spokeswoman Jan Mendoza. The face-lift will include replacing doors, installing new flooring, upgrading signs, and painting the buildings interior and exterior.
They needed to do some upgrading, Mendoza said. Its just one of those necessary things. Because of the type of work thats being done, it would require the closing of the office and we cant do it while the customers are there.
Mendoza said the offices 24 employees have been temporarily transferred to four nearby offices: Los Banos, Madera, Modesto and Turlock.
Customers are asked to visit one of those offices to handle in-person transactions, such as driving tests, said Mendoza. Roughly 450 customers visit the Merced office each day.
One of those customers would have been Merced resident Joanna Blakemans mother, whose plans have been upset by the closure.
My mother is trying to get her disabled placard and will have to wait even longer now to get one, Blakeman said in response to a question posted on the Sun-Stars Facebook page.
Atwater resident Tonya Snow Chaves echoed the same concern for her disabled parent. My mom had a scheduled appointment for next week and was upset that she will have to go out of town and is disabled, she said. There wasnt even a notice sent out to people who had appointments.
Her mother, Katherine Snow, 55, had a DMV appointment for Nov. 5 to renew her cars registration tags and change her address. I didnt hear anything about it. When I called and asked what am I going to do now, they referred me to the Turlock office, Snow said. I dont know how to get there, and its hard to drive a long distance because Im disabled.
Snow said she cant take care of her business online because she doesnt own a computer. She found out about the closure through a Sun-Star article, Snow said.
Mendoza said DMV staff tries to call people with appointments, but sometimes customers do not include their contact information.
There are 170 DMV field offices in California, Mendoza said, and many will undergo renovations similar to those being made in Merced.
In the meantime, there are a couple of things residents can do to make the 30-mile or more drive to another DMV office more productive.
We highly recommend folks make an appointment before they truck down to Modesto or Turlock or the other locations, Mendoza said. I think the most important thing is that when they do make their appointment, get on our website and make sure you have all the forms necessary to get your transaction done seamlessly.
Since the Merced office is a state-owned building, the money for the renovation comes from the DMV budget. About $60,000 has been used to put on a new roof and install air conditioning equipment.
Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or email@example.com.