Success Story
September 12, 2023

Texas Putting More Commercial Drivers on the Road Through EDA Support

Commercial drivers play a critical role in our nation’s economy. Those with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) operate the tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, and passenger buses that transport supplies, materials, products, and people across the country.  Simply put, commercial drivers help America move forward.

President Biden’s commitment to strengthening American supply chains and bolstering the national trucking industry has led to extensive investment in supporting drivers and getting them the support they need. As the President said in remarks celebrating the ‘Trucking Action Plan,’ “We’re building a better economy around American manufacturing and American supply chains...We’re making the largest investment in American roads and bridges since, literally, the creation of the Interstate Highway System.  And that means a bright future for American trucking.”

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Lamar State College Port Arthur trains CDL drivers through its fleet of 12 trucks and eight trailers.

The demand for drivers has grown exponentially over the past several years. This is especially true in Texas, where 82 percent of the state is rural, and yet both the population and the number of businesses continue to grow.

In Southeast Texas, interest in Lamar State College Port Arthur’s CDL program steadily increased to match the growing workforce demand. While the school offers hands-on training, there was a problem testing for the CDL. The area is 100 miles from the nearest mega-center testing facility, forcing graduates to wait up to three months for an examination. This backlog caused frustration not just for students, but for the businesses that wanted to employ them.

“It created a huge inconvenience,” said Dr. Ben Stafford, Vice President for Workforce and Continuing Education. “If a company needed a newly trained driver to take an exam, they would have to take one of their trucks and a second driver out of service for the entire day to send them 100 miles across the state for testing.”

In 2020, the state approved Lamar State College Port Arthur as a CDL examination center, to serve not only graduates, but also the entire region. In 2021, the Economic Development Administration provided  a $4.3 million CARES Act award, to support construction of a new Commercial Driving Academy-Examination Center.

“It’s a real game changer. Prior to this we were doing examinations at the local high school parking lot, but we had to stop exams if children were around for safety issues,” Dr. Stafford said.

The 20-acre facility officially opened its doors in July 2023, made possible through the support of local government and private investment. It is the largest CDL examination center in Texas, and twice the size of the next largest in the region. It provides a four-lane examination space and at full capacity can process 20,000 CDL exams per year.

In addition, the new training facility has a fleet of 12 trucks and eight trailers, ranging from tanks to box and flatbed trucks, training 300 students a year. Students are now able to be scheduled for a CDL exam within a week of graduating, providing trained drivers to fill quality jobs across the region.

“We need a lot of truck drivers. Texas is the single most active state in our nation in terms of trucking and logistics. More Texas residents are employed in this industry than any other state,” Dr. Stafford said.


  • Infrastructure
  • Workforce Development