Port of Oakland pays truckers to upgrade

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In an effort to curb air pollution around the fourth-largest container port in the nation, Oakland, Calif., port officials unveiled a new program that gives truckers money for some new wheels.

Eighty truckers, all owning rigs built in or before 1986, will receive $25,000 each toward the purchase of new tractor-trailers.

“We are really trying to get the oldest and dirtiest trucks out of here,” said Tim Leong, a port environmental scientist. “We looked elsewhere to see what other successful programs are going on in California and found this one. ”

The program, which is funded by the port, is a result of a settlement agreement made when the port expansion project began more than 10 years ago. The port authority agreed to spend almost $9 million to reduce air pollution in and around the complex.

Making trucks cleaner is the last part of that agreement and was the most difficult to accomplish. The port’s new program comes after an idea to retrofit old trucks with new engines failed. That program offered truckers money to equip their rigs with new engines, but the offer largely was ignored because that did not increase the value of the rigs and left them without a source of income while their trucks were retrofitted.

Leong said he expects the new program, which is expected to cost about $2.9 million, to attract more takers. The program will be funded with cash left over from other environmental mitigation programs completed under budget.

For more information, contact the Replacement Truck Program hotline at 510-627-1380.