STEUBENVILLE - State Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has been lobbying the Ohio Department of Public Safety for approximately 18 months to re-open the Wintersville driver examination station.
His efforts will have to continue after the Ohio Department of Public Safety announced there are no immediate plans to re-open the office in Jefferson County.
The driver examination station, housed in the former Wintersville Elementary School building, lost its lease when the building was sold to the Jefferson County Christian School.
"The driver examination station has been closed for close to two years and with their most recent announcement, I am very disappointed. The Department of Safety is citing the cost of re-opening a new office. And they have said if the facility hadn't lost its lease it would not have been closed. But I am sure there are landlords in Jefferson County who would be interested in working with the state to provide an office," Cera said.
According to a cost analysis provided by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the first year cost of establishing a new office would be $108,200.
Recurring items such as personnel, rent, utilities, janitorial, exterior maintenance and supplies would be an additional $111,200 for a first year total of $219,400.
"A project is under way to optimize (drive examination) services statewide, to provide full service exam stations that will best serve our customers in every area of the state, including our Jefferson County customers. The Wintersville driver examination station closed due to an issue with the lease. The cost estimate to relocate the station exceeds $200,000. There are no immediate plans to re-open, but that is not to say in the future, it may be reconsidered," said Lindsey Bohrer, BMV public information officer
Cera said statistics supplied to his office by the BMV indicate Jefferson County residents now have the option of driving 30.8 miles from Wintersville to the Bridgeport driver examination station or 39.3 miles to the driver examination station in Lisbon or 28.8 miles to Carrollton.
"I understand the state is concerned about their costs of re-opening an examination station in the Wintersville area. But what about the cost to the taxpayers who have to drive outside of Jefferson County to take the driver's test," said Cera.
"This is another example of the folks in Columbus forgetting about our part of the state. If a driver examination station was closed in Columbus because of an issue with the lease I am sure they would re-open the examination station in another location. But we can't have the same treatment in Jefferson County," said Cera.