$13.5M ‘eHighway’ to Put Zero Emissions Trucks to the Test at Ports of Long Beach, LA • Long Beach Post

After receiving massive backlash over its extension of coal exportation, it looks like the Port of Long Beach (POLB) as well as its sister, the Port of Los Angeles, will be moving forward with a very promising project: an all-electric highway in an effort to reduce truck emissions.

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The $13.5M project, headed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), will consist of an overhead catenary-style system (OCS) that will provide electric power to drayage trucks, or trucks which transport goods over a short distance. In theory, the trucks will operate in full zero-emissions mode while simultaneously charging the truck’s battery while connected (and therefore permitting the truck to travel in zero-emissions mode even when not connected).

The appeal for traffic-congested urban areas like LA and Long Beach is obvious.

SCAQMD, which is funding $2.5M of the cost, approved in April of last year an entering contract with tech giant Siemens Technology Inc. to head the project, the company that already has a pilot project of the same kind underway in Germany (and which readers can see a video describing the entire technology). The US version will ultimately be a demonstration—not an actual implementation—of how the green technology could possibly works for the ports. Siemens will oversee the design, the installation of the lines, and a one-year completion of the project using both battery-electric and hybrid trucks through a partnership with Volvo Group.

The two-way, mile-long eHighway will run along Alameda Street in the City of Carson, roughly between East Lomita Street and the Dominguez Channel. Up to four trucks will be using the OCS daily once the eHighway is completed in July of 2015.

“The Port is a funding partner—one of several,” said Renee Moilanen of the Environmental Planning Division at POLB. “We have committed up to $2 million toward this project. At this time, it is a demonstration project to test the functionality of the system so it will not be used to transport cargo in normal port operations.”

POLA is set to seek Board approval on $4M to support the project while Metro has given $2M and the California Energy Commission has promised $3M (up from the $1.6M it promised last year).

“The Port is always looking for promising technologies to reduce our emissions and our impacts on the local community,” Moilanen said. “The overhead catenary system for trucks is one such technology that could bring us closer toward becoming a near zero- or zero emissions port and to reducing pollution throughout Southern California.”

The project collaborators include SCAQMD, the Port of Long Beach, the Port of Los Angeles, Gateway Cities Council of Governments, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and the Southern California Association of Governments.

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