FTCC has been awarded $500,000 by the Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors for construction-related costs for a driving pad at a planned Regional Supply Chain Transport Complex in western Cumberland County.
The 600- by 900-foot driving pad, which will include a shifting track and a skid area, will permit multiple tractor trailers to operate at once, greatly expanding the training capabilities of FTCC and two strategic partners in the project, Bladen Community College and Robeson Community College.
The $13.5 million complex is set for a 58-acre property on Old Raeford Road and will also include a 5,000-square-foot classroom building and a two-bay diesel maintenance garage. Besides Commercial Driver’s License training, the complex is expected to house a new Fleet Maintenance Technician program. The project is anticipated to be complete in June 2024.
“We are grateful for the investment made by the Golden LEAF Foundation,” said FTCC President Dr. Mark Sorrells. “This will help construct the commercial driving pad that will be used by programs at FTCC, Bladen Community College and Robeson Community College. This regional facility enables these 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 Regional Supply Chain Transport Complex because of an ongoing shortage of commercial truck drivers and diesel mechanics, both locally and throughout the state and nation.
The College has a highly successful CDL training program, with a 100-percent job placement rate for students who complete the program and earn their CDL credential. But because of space and equipment limitations, there is a student waiting list.
CDL classes are now held on FTCC’s Fayetteville campus. A 200- by 350-foot area in a large parking lot is used for required practice by students in straight-line backing, lane off-set to the right and to the left, 40- and 90-degree alley docking, and both sight-side and blind-side parallel parking. Only one tractor-trailer at a time can be accommodated.
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. Through their partnership with FTCC, BCC and RCC will be able to send their CDL students to the new complex to use the driving pad for that portion of their training. BCC and RCC will provide classroom training for their students on their campuses. FTCC will move all portions of its CDL program to the new complex.
Under current standards governing the space requirements for CDL training, the driving pad at the complex will allow for training with eight trucks at one time, accommodating up to 24 students (up to three students per truck). 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 one time, accommodating a total of 48 students at the same time. This will allow FTCC, BCC and RCC to use the pad simultaneously.
If the state moves to new federal standards, FTCC will be able to have 14 trucks on the pad at one time.
Golden LEAF awarded its grant on Thursday, Oct. 5. FTCC previously secured $13 million in funding for the project from the state to construct the building that will house classrooms and lab space for the CDL and the Fleet Maintenance Technician programs. 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 gifted to FTCC in 2008.
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 includes instruction in brake systems, exhaust systems, steering mechanisms, frame, tires, wheels and rims.