$13.5-million eHighway system aimed at reducing air pollution at SoCal ports

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new transportation project aimed at reducing air pollution at two Southern California ports is getting underway.

The eHighway, or electric highway, would connect trucks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to overhead wires and have them operate on electricity.

"This project, sponsored by AQMD, will be the first one in this country to demonstrate zero emissions from trucks carrying cargo around the ports," said Sam Atwood with South Coast Air Quality Management District, an air pollution control agency for Orange County and parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The project is expected to cost $13.5 million and be installed on a one-mile stretch on the northbound and southbound sections of Alameda Street where it intersects with Sepulveda Boulevard in Carson. A combination of battery-electric and hybrid trucks will be used.

When trucks drive away from the ports, the wires retract automatically and the trucks will drive off on their own power, Atwood said.

Siemens and the Volvo Group are developing a demonstration vehicle for the project.

Ultimately, the goal is to lower fossil fuel consumption, substantially reduce smog-forming and toxic carbon emissions and lower operating costs.

"It's one of the many steps we need to take to clean our air in the Los Angeles area. We are going to need to see cleaner trucks and even zero-emissions trucks carrying cargo, because trucks are one of the largest sources of air pollution," Atwood said.

Construction begins early next year and is expected to be completed July 2015. If it's a success, the eHighway could be expanded to other areas close to the ports.

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