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L.A.-Long Beach ports? trucking plan proponents rally supporters

L.A.-Long Beach portsÆ trucking plan proponents rally supporters

Proponents of a drayage overhaul scheme by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles rallied several hundred supporters at a Tuesday meeting in San Pedro.

   The meeting, ostensibly held by the ports to take comments on the plan, was in sharp contrast to one held last week that drew a larger audience that expressed near universal scorn for the plan.

   Unveiled in April by the two neighboring ports, the stated goal of the $1.2 billion Clean Truck Program is to replace the more than 16,000 short-haul trucks that operate within the two ports with newer less-polluting models. Under the plan, the ports will issue licenses to truck companies that meet certain port-defined standards. Companies without the licenses and truckers not working for companies with licenses would then be prohibited from operating in the port. One of the main criteria would be that only companies that hire paid-by-the-hour drivers, instead of independent contractor drivers, would be eligible.

   Licensed truck companies would also be required, as a condition of obtaining a license, to maintain a fleet of trucks that meet further port-defined air quality, safety and security standards. Until the company's trucks meet the standards, the individual trucks will be charged an access fee to enter and exit the ports' terminals.

   The ports will also offer money to companies licensed under the plan to purchase newer compliant trucks.

   The access fees and contributions from the ports will provide about half of the funds for the program. The ports are seeking to obtain the rest from state infrastructure bonds approved by voters in November.

   Numerous industry groups have expressed their opposition to the plan and several are preparing litigation to stop it.

   The respective governing boards of the two ports are set to vote on approving the plan next month.

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