Disrupted MVA suggests use of branches

May 11, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration has two words for the 5,000 motorists a day who visit the headquarters in Glen Burnie: Go away.

The headquarters, built 32 years ago as an MVA mail operation, is getting a long-overdue $4.4 million renovation. The areas most customers use are either about to be disrupted or already are; the MVA's advice is to either do business by mail or go to the branch and express offices that dot the state.

Most people need not make the pilgrimage at all, said W. Marshall Rickert, MVA administrator. They could do their business by mail -- if they don't procrastinate -- or use the express and branch offices for the same services. Nevertheless much of the MVA's walk-in traffic is of the 11th-hour nature, as people wait until the last day to devise a payment schedule for the overdue parking fines that preclude a tag renewal.

"What a place looks like when you walk in makes an impression," said Adele Stephens, director of the MVA's planning and facilities development division.

The impression left by the existing layout is that the cavernous offices on Ritchie Highway were not designed with the customer in mind. For example, tag renewal is downstairs, but other tag business is on the first floor, except for the related offices on the second floor. Signs and arrows direct visitors everywhere. The hallway maze requires a map.

It will get worse before it gets better, Mr. Rickert said, as the 18-month renovation project that began in August enters the most disruptive phase.

The result will be two blue and white areas, one for driver license business and the other for tag renewals.

That will leave only about 10,000 people a month to visit a third area that will drop to the first floor, where people will sort out their financial situation with the MVA. The second floor will be devoted to internal MVA business.

The driver license annex in the back will close next week so that the building can be emptied, Ms. Stephens said. The driver license offices will move into five trailers that will sit on some of the 600 visitor parking spaces nearby.

The annex will reopen at the end of September, said David Sadiq, project manager for the renovation. It will be transformed into a 5,000-square-foot driver's license service center rimmed with bank-like teller windows.

The rear entrance of the main building has been closed so that it can be rebuilt as an enlarged entrance to the lower level. That level is getting shuffled to create a 40,000-square-foot vehicle registration renewal area. Part will open at the end of June and it will be fully operational in June 1995, Mr. Sadiq said.

The renovation is part of a $45 million program to make the MVA a more customer-friendly bureaucracy.

And the building won't be institutional green anymore. Plans call for a white facade trimmed in red, with smoke-colored windows.

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