Drivers use the centers to apply for licenses and take driving tests.
Gov. Nathan Deal led a groundbreaking ceremony alongside Chairman Tim Lee, Commissioner Helen Goreham and representatives from the state Department of Driver Services, kicking off construction on one of the new centers the county plans to build, which will be beside the old one it’s replacing off County Services Parkway.
The other new center will be built in Kennesaw off Old Highway 41 to replace the old center off Canton Road.
County manager David Hankerson said the county hopes to complete construction on both buildings by June or July of next year.
Rob Mikell, Department of Driver Services commissioner, said the state will lease the centers from the county after their completion and will operate the offices using state resources, providing all of the personnel, computers and vehicles needed to run the center.
He said the need for new centers in Cobb is “unbelievable.”
“(The current center) doesn’t meet our needs for our business processes and our business flow,” Mikell said. “There’s no room on the inside.”
Mikell said the center off County Services Parkway — which handles more than 13,000 driver transactions each month — only houses about 75 seats.
Customers are often forced to wait outside under an awning and “in the elements” when the line exceeds the number of chairs available, he said.
Each of the about 10,000 square-foot centers will have 20 service counters and about 220 seats, Mikell said.
“I hope the citizens of Cobb County aren’t actually having to sit in those seats very long, but if they are, they’re there,” he said.
Of the 66 driver services centers across Georgia, Mikell noted the two in Cobb are the fifth and sixth busiest offices in the state.
“When you’re running that many people through a building like this … it’s painful,” he said. “We’re the first contact with so many people when they come to Georgia.”
Mikell said his department internally refers to the current center off County Services Parkway as “the boat” because of its small, awkward feel.
Hankerson said “the boat” is more than 40 years old.
Both Lee and Deal expressed enthusiasm for the joint venture between Cobb and the state.
“We are excited about this partnership with the state, and I believe our residents will really see a benefit once these centers open,” Lee said.
Deal highlighted other projects on which the state is collaborating with Cobb. He said Georgia’s Department of Transportation would likely form more partnerships with the county thanks to the impending Braves move.
“As the new Braves stadium comes online, I feel certain that there will be even more connectivity to major roadways in order to facilitate traffic in and about that area,” Deal said.