On Friday, the smell of fresh paint filled the new Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ customer service center in Bedford while IT technician Derrick Harris installed computers in service windows.

Harris said the larger screens will allow DMV employees to quickly bring up all the data necessary to set customers up with REAL ID, a new form of identification that meets increased security standards for state-issued driver’s license and identification cards.

The new computers are one of several changes DMV customers will see once the DMV’s new Bedford office opens as the state agency aims to improve the customer experience.

On Thursday, the customer service center at 1629 Forest Road closed permanently and moved to 1128 E. Lynchburg Salem Turnpike in Bedford Plaza. The new DMV office will open for business Thursday. The new location is more than double the size of the former location, totaling 4,800 square feet.

Brandy Brubaker, public relations for Virginia DMV, said the size increase allows the company to add service windows and a larger lobby to more efficiently serve customers.

“We started searching for a suitable facility to relocate our Bedford office about 18 months to two years ago,” Brubaker said in an email Friday.

According to a news release from the DMV, the new office will have 13 customer service windows — seven more than at the former office — and more seating, and six of the windows will have a camera for driver’s license transactions, rather than just two at the former office.

“Our goal is to serve customers as efficiently as possible and to ensure their visit to DMV is a positive experience,” DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb said in the news release. “This larger office will help us work toward that goal.”

Brubaker said the construction costs totaled $424,500 and the annual rent is $48,000.

Harold Lewis, field facility supervisor for the Virginia DMV, said between leasing the new location and making sure every step of the relocation is done properly, it’s taken a good chunk of time.

“The whole process has taken over a year and a half,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the construction work for the new location next door to the Goodwill in Bedford Plaza has been on-going for the past month and half.

According to the news release, Virginia now offers REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. Harris said the REAL ID will be necessary for international flights starting in 2020.

The news release said during the closure, customers can conduct online transactions at dmvNOW.com or visit the Lynchburg Customer Service Center at 3236 Odd Fellows Road or the Roanoke Customer Service Center at 5220 Valleypark Drive.

“Customers conducting only vehicle-related transactions, such as registration renewals, titles and license plates, can visit the Lynchburg DMV Select Office at 900 Church Street or the Roanoke City DMV Select located at 215 Church Avenue SW, Room 254,” the news release said.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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