All DEQ’s vehicle inspection stations have reopened for testing, and the response has been record-breaking. Nearly 4,000 cars a day went through stations in Jackson, Clackamas, Washington and Columbia counties during the first two weeks. That number rose even higher this week with the reopening of Multnomah County stations in Gresham and Northeast Portland.
“It’s been a bit overwhelming, with adjusting to the new cleaning protocols and handling so many customers at once,” said Jessica Lazott, acting manager for the Northeast Portland and Scappoose stations, who also worked at the Sunset/Hillsboro location the first week back. “But we are so grateful that the customers have been patient and gracious. They understand we have extra work to do to keep everyone safe.”
Staff in the Vehicle Inspection Program faced long lines, new COVID-related safety procedures and a lot of pent-up demand by drivers looking to get their compliance certificates. Working with local law enforcement, Oregon Department of Transportation and a private traffic control firm, traffic snarls were minimized and there were few reports of unhappy or frustrated customers. A vast majority of customers heeded the requirement to wear face coverings while having their cars tested.
“I have to hand it to our staff,” said VIP Manager Mike Skorupka, who along with management staff spent Wednesday morning delivering bagels and doughnuts to workers as a show of gratitude. “They worked tirelessly, courteously and have helped us begin to work through a pretty hefty backlog. VIP employees deserve a big round of thanks!”
News media coverage focused on the long lines, but also on DEQ’s messages to be patient and consider holding off on an inspection for a few weeks when lines should become more manageable. Customers also were directed to have their cars checked at partner DEQ Too businesses, which also experienced higher than normal numbers.
- Harry Esteve and Susan Mills