Fayetteville Technical Community College has been awarded $500,000 by the Golden LEAF Foundation toward construction of a driving pad at a planned regional supply chain transport complex in western Cumberland County, according to a news release.
The 600-by-900-foot driving pad, which will include a shifting track and a skid area, will accommodate multiple tractor trailers at once, expanding the training capabilities of FTCC and its partners in the project, Bladen and Robeson community colleges.
The $13.5 million complex will be built on a 58-acre property on Old Raeford Road. It will include a 5,000-square-foot classroom building and a two-bay diesel maintenance garage, the release said.
The complex is for commercial driver’s license training and a new fleet maintenance technician program, the release said. Completion is expected in June 2024.
“We are grateful for the investment made by the Golden LEAF Foundation,” said FTCC President Mark Sorrells. “This regional facility enables (the partner) institutions to work collectively toward meeting the existing workforce needs and future economic development projects in the Sandhills region and across our state.”
FTCC developed plans for the complex because of an ongoing shortage of commercial truck drivers and diesel mechanics, both locally and throughout the state and nation.
The school’s CDL training program has a 100% job placement rate for students who complete the program and earn their CDL credential. But because of space and equipment limitations, there has been a student waiting list.
CDL classes are now held on FTCC’s Fayetteville campus in a 200-by-350-foot area in a parking lot. Students practice straight-line backing, lane off-set to the right and left, 40- and 90-degree alley docking, and parallel parking. Only one tractor-trailer can be accommodated at a time, the news release said.
Robeson Community College, which has an existing CDL program, faces similar space limitations as does Bladen Community College, which is in the process of setting up a CDL program.
BCC and RCC will provide classroom training for their students on their campuses. FTCC will move all parts of its CDL program to the new complex, the release said.
The driving pad at the new complex will accommodate training with eight trucks and 24 students at a time. For each class meeting, half of the students will train on the pad while the other half will train on the road, allowing 16 trucks to be in operation at a time and accommodating 48 students, the news release said.
Golden LEAF awarded its grant on Oct. 5. FTCC previously secured $13 million in funding for the project from the state to construct classrooms and lab space. A grant from the Cannon Foundation will provide equipment, supplies and materials for both programs, and a $247,000 grant from the N.C. Community College System is funding a driver training simulator for BCC and additional equipment for FTCC.
The 58-acre location was given to FTCC in 2008, the release said.
The courses planned for the transport complex include CDL Class A, a 400-hour program that trains students to drive tractor trailers; CDL Class B, a 200-hour program that trains students to drive commercial passenger buses; and fleet maintenance technician, a 288-hour course that covers brake systems, exhaust systems, steering mechanisms, frame, tires, wheels and rims.