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New MVA office outside Westminster will offer more services, shorter lines It is to be built near state police barracks


New technologies and a larger building will enable the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to expand its services in Westminster, Administrator Ronald L. Freeland said this week.

Computers will allow motorists to renew registrations, which they cannot do now, and will reduce waits in lines, he promised.

Mr. Freeland spoke to the county commissioners and town officials Monday during a meeting with state transportation officials at the County Office Building.

Plans call for a new MVA office to be built adjacent to the Maryland State Police barracks on Route 140 outside Westminster late next year, he said.

The office will not be full-service like those in Glen Burnie, Baltimore and Frederick, but it will offer more services than are available now, Mr. Freeland said.

The local office has been in the Westminster Professional Center, off Route 140 near Gorsuch Road, since 1979, he said.

It offers only driver services, such as road tests and license renewals.

"We're really going to need to use technology to fill the gap" as the state continues to reduce its staff, Mr. Freeland said.

Within a year, the MVA will install a self-service computer terminal in Westminster at which motorists will be able to renew motor vehicle registrations around the clock, he said.

In the next few months, the MVA will test a scheduling system at the Westminster office to try to reduce the amount of time motorists wait in line, he said.

Some states require that motorists call ahead to schedule an appointment for services, and officials want to see how that would work here, Mr. Freeland said.

Employees will continue to handle walk-in customers while testing the scheduling system, he said.

When the larger office is built, the MVA will be able to conduct three or four driver road tests simultaneously. It can now conduct only one at a time, Mr. Freeland said.

The new office will contain 3,500 square feet, 1,400 square feet more than the current building. A full-service office would need to be 10,000 to 12,000 square feet, he said.

The new office will be built just east of a new state police barracks to be constructed at the site of the existing barracks. State police plan to build a 11,600-square-foot barracks and a 4,500-square-foot garage on a 4.6-acre state-owned parcel, spokesman Mike McKelvin said.

The existing barracks, built in 1960, measures 9,700 square feet, and the garage measures 2,500 square feet, he said.

Design work on the barracks is being done in the current fiscal year, and construction is scheduled to begin in fiscal 1997, which begins July 1, he said. Construction will take about a year, and the project will cost $2.7 million, he said.

"The Westminster barracks is easily our busiest barracks in the state," Mr. McKelvin said. Eight-four troopers are assigned there, he said.

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