Truck driving school begins building new site

The Sun-Gazette

Advanced Career Institute will build 9.25-acre truck driving and welding school on Clancy Street near Goshen Avenue in Visalia

VISALIA – A local truck driving school is ready to begin building its new campus in the Visalia Industrial Park. Last month, Advanced Career Institute (ACI) filed a conditional use permit to build a new 9.25-acre truck driving and welding school including a new 10,000-square foot metal building on Clancy Street (Road 88) near Goshen Avenue.

On Oct. 26, the Visalia Planning Commission unanimously approved a six-month extension for the classroom portion of its truck driving school to continue operating at 1728 N. Kelsey Street in Visalia until the new site opens. ACI has also entered into a month-to-month lease for its welding school campus at 8425 W. Elowin Court. The truck driving and welding schools will be consolidated at the new, larger facility according to owner David Bither.

Truck driving courses were moved to Tulare after ACI discovered its current site in the Visalia Industrial Park was not up to code after 26 years in business. ACI has been in operation at the site since 1993 but the site was never permitted for a truck driving school. Brandon Smith, project planner for the Visalia, said the city received a code enforcement complaint about the vocational school and when the city investigated it discovered the site never went through the proper permitting process for the site. In order to bring the site up to code, Smith said ACI would have had to make major improvements in the next six months to bring the site into compliance with current building, engineering, and accessibility requirements. Primarily, the one-acre site would have to be paved with asphalt as part of the request.

Smith said ACI was initially interested in moving forward with the permit to ensure they did not have any interruptions in operation but then began searching for a new site outside the city limits. In February, the Visalia Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit allowing ACI to continue operating at its current site. The permit only allows ACI to continue providing classes at 1728 N. Kelsey St. through Dec. 31, 2020. During that time, ACI is only allowed to offer stationary vehicle training and the permit limits the number of stationary trucks and trailers to three in order to limit noise and dust from the unpaved are while the school works to relocate to a property outside the city limits.

Following an orientation on Friday, students begin classes the following Monday, with class start times being staggered throughout the day. The majority of students attend a four-week, 160-hour program or an eight-week, 160-hour program. At any given time there are about two student applicants receiving a tour, 20 students receiving classroom and yard instruction, six instructors and eight administrative employees. Students do their final testing at the Commercial Testing Center in Fresno, and after successful completion return to the Kelsey campus to do final paper work.

ACI opened its truck driving school in 1986 in Southern California. It opened a second location in Visalia in 1993 and added its Fresno campus in 2000 where students learn to drive commercial trucks and buses. Eight years later, ACI began offering welding classes in Visalia. The welding program prepares students to obtain American Welding Society (AWS) welder performance qualifications in the horizontal, vertical, overhead, and 6G positions.

Today, programs are held at three other campuses located between Bakersfield and Merced. The company has a history of employing administrative personnel while successfully providing vocational training, certification and job placement to hundreds of students, many of which continue to maintain their primary residence in Visalia.

For more information on ACI, visit Advanced.edu.

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