The testing of vehicle emissions began Friday in Hamilton County with the opening of four testing stations in Hixson, Brainerd, Bonny Oaks and downtown. An emission test is now required for all gasoline and diesel passenger vehicles of 1975 and newer model years.
The testing is part of a strategy to help the county comply with federal air quality requirements by 2007. The primary goal of the testing is to reduce ozone air pollution.
Hamilton County residents must have their vehicles inspected before they will be allowed to get a new tag or renew their registration. According to Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles, a computerized data connection with the testing facilities will allow the Clerk's office to verify that vehicles have passed their emissions test.
There is a $10 fee for the test, which must be paid in cash. Vehicle owners will not be allowed to take the test if their tags are not up for renewal.
Vehicle owners should note that the operating hours for the testing stations vary by location. The Hixson and Eastgate stations are open Tuesday - Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The Bonny Oaks and downtown stations are open Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Hixson: 5206 Austin Road, north of Northgate Mall off Hixson Pike.
Eastgate: 720 Eastgate Loop, southeast corner of Eastgate Town Center parking lot, near the Post Office.
Bonny Oaks: 7460 Bonnyshire Drive, behind the Drivers License testing center off Bonny Oaks Drive.
Downtown: 1815 Riverfront Parkway, between W. Main Street and W. 19th Street.
Mr. Knowles said on Thursday his office processed the largest number of vehicle transactions in a single day since his tenure began in 1974.
He said, "To date this Federal EPA mandate has required 376 hours of staff overtime leading up to the beginning of emission testing in Hamilton County.
"Yesterday, in processing a record 4,221 applications, the staff hardly had time to eat lunch. We remained open later than usual to serve those rushing to our office. My deputy clerks were real troopers in serving the public responsibly and cheerfully. Truly, they are dedicated public servants, and I am thankful for their outstanding work.
"Hopefully, this Federal mandate will in the end prove beneficial by producing better air quality in Hamilton County."