New MVC agency expected to open by February in South Plainfield
Residents of northern Middlesex County exasperated by visits to local Motor Vehicle Commission agencies should see some help, though not for a few months.
Work on expanding the size of the Edison agency by more than two-thirds should be done by the end of the year, said MVC chief administrator and chairman Raymond Martinez. And a new, larger location in South Plainfield, replacing a busy site that closed in May, should open shortly after that.
“Between those two offices, it’s going to be a tremendous improvement in service to that area,” Martinez said.
Martinez wouldn’t specify the location of the new South Plainfield agency, saying the paperwork isn’t yet finalized, but Sen. Patrick Diegnan Jr., D-Middlesex, said he was told by Martinez it would be near the Middlesex Mall.
“The property would actually increase the square footage by approximately 1,430 square feet, so we’re going to get a bigger office,” Martinez said. “We are hoping that will be open to the public in January, perhaps early February.”
Though complaints used to be made about the service at the former site in the Golden Acres Shopping Center on Oak Tree Road, the howls were even louder when the site closed in May after its lease wasn’t renewed.
Most people have instead used the agency in Edison, though the MVC advised people to go as far as Flemington, which is around 45 minutes away from South Plainfield, for in-person MVC services.
The alternatives have been far from ideal, Diegnan said.
“I have had, and I’m not making this up, literally I can’t go anywhere in town without somebody telling me a story of waiting on line for two-plus hours at the Edison facility or one of the other facilities,” said Diegnan said. “It’s just been an awful, awful situation.”
“What started as a bad news story I think is ultimately going to resolve itself,” he said.
Diegnan said the state Treasury Department, which manages leases for the state, was responsible for the gap in service in South Plainfield, not the MVC. He said Martinez has been “very, very cooperative and helpful” and that the site near the Middlesex Mall “may actually be a better location.”
“It’s a pretty major intersection, and you’re still nice and close to Piscataway, right up the road from Edison. So it will be a convenient – in fact, it might even be a more convenient location than the prior one,” Diegnan said.
The state had been looking at leasing space for the MVC across Hadley Road from the mall, at 5000 Hadley Road. The agency was located at the mall until 10 years ago, when it moved 5 miles away to what had been an 8,532 square feet facility.
The new agency would be more than double the size of the old Middlesex Mall office.
Martinez says drivers aren’t taking full advantage of options allowing them to ‘Skip the Trip’ to an agency. More than one-third of driver’s license or registration renewals that could be done online or by mail are still being completed through in-person visits to an agency, according to MVC data.
“It makes me feel bad because when I go visit the offices, if people are waiting in line, sometimes I ask, ‘Can I see your paperwork?’ and they were eligible. They did not have to come into an office,” Martinez said. “So the first thing I tell everybody is before you come to Motor Vehicles, check the website.”