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    $4.9M grant leads to Texas’ largest CDL testing center

    Dr. Ben Stafford, Vice President of Workforce Development and Continuing Education, poses in front of one of LSCPA
    Dr. Ben Stafford, Vice President of Workforce Development and Continuing Education, poses in front of one of LSCPA's CDL training trucks on its campus in Port Arthur.

    Imagine successfully completing your training for a commercial driver’s license only to find out there is a months-long wait just to test for your CDL license.

    Lamar State College Port Arthur imagined something completely different and now, thanks to a $4.9 million grant, the goal of constructing a CDL mega-testing center has come to fruition.

    The U.S. Department of Commerce announced recently that LSCPA is the recipient of a $4.3 million Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant. This grant, part of a $19.3 million statewide investment, will fund the construction of a commercial driver education and examination center. The project is being matched with $619,000 in local investment, including the donation of 20 acres of land along U.S. 69 between Beaumont and Port Arthur.

    “As our nation responds to the worst pandemic of modern day, commercial transport provides the link between field and market,” LSCPA Dean of Workforce Training Dr. Ben Stafford explained. “Without commercial transport, goods would cease to flow and our society would grind to a halt.

    “With many people opting to remain in their homes, more and more commercial drivers have been called into over-the-road work that is the life-blood of our nation,” he said.

    LSCPA is a certified third-party skills examination provider for the Texas Department of Public Safety and the only third-party commercial driver skills examination center in this region of Texas.

    The construction of the new CDL training and testing center is expected to begin in March 2023 and will be completed by March 2026.

    This project is a cooperative effort between Lamar State College Port Arthur and Jefferson County, designed to address the worsening backlog in commercial driver examination occurring throughout the State of Texas.

    “Students work hard to receive training to become CDL drivers. The idea of having to wait months to start their new career is just disheartening,” LSCPA President Dr. Betty Reynard said. “This grant award is the culmination of months of hard work by Dr. Stafford and his department. This is a proud day for our Workforce Training office and for the college.”

    Jefferson County provided the land for the project and the college, Drainage District 7, and Soutex Surveyors worked in cooperation to create roughly 10 acres of much-needed retention ponds on the project site, Dr. Stafford explained.

    Once completed, the project will cover more than 20 acres of land in CDL examination lanes, covered testing and practice areas, a new commercial driver training building, parking lot and retention ponds.

    “This has been a true public-private partnership in an effort to respond to the growing need to rapidly train and license new commercial drivers,” Stafford said.

    Among those involved are:

         • George Newsome of Soutex Surveyors providing many free hours of surveying and consolation on the project and created the project site plan,

         • Jefferson County with the donation of land,

         • Drainage District 7 working with the college and Soutex to design the retention ponds,

         • Golden Pass LNG and Sempra LNG providing support for the project and providing information regarding the number of drivers they need to bring their LNG construction project to a successful end,

         • and, the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission for its help in reviewing the project.

    “We would be remiss in not thanking U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, U.S. Sen. Brandon Creighton, U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, Texas State Rep. Joe Deshotel and Texas State Rep. Dade Phelan for their support of this project,” Stafford said.