By Karen Robes Meeks, August 10, 2014
The South Coast Air Quality Management District in July is expected to start a yearlong demonstration of an “eHighway” system near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The first of its kind in the U.S., the $13.5 million highway project to be built starting in early 2015 will consist of a two-way, one-mile overhead electric catenary system that will run on Alameda Street from East Lomita Boulevard to the Dominguez Channel.
Next summer, technology that powers today’s trolleys and streetcars may soon power trucks traveling to and from the nation’s two busiest seaports in a demonstration that officials hope will lead to cleaner air.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District in July is expected to start a yearlong demonstration of an “eHighway” system near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The first of its kind in the U.S., the $13.5 million highway project to be built starting in early 2015 will consist of a two-way, 1-mile overhead electric catenary system that will run on Alameda Street from East Lomita Boulevard to the Dominguez Channel.
Global engineering company Siemens will build the catenary system as well as the “current collectors,” which would allow trucks at any speed to link and unlink from the eHighway.
A catenary system consists of overhead wires that vehicles pass under to receive electrical charges using a pantograph, a contraption mounted on the roof of the vehicle to collect the electrical charges. They are most commonly used by trolleys and streetcars.
The eHighway concept applies the catenary system to trucks, allowing them to collect electrical power with a pantograph that unfolds from the roof of a truck. After passing under the catenary system, trucks can switch to diesel, compressed natural gas, battery or another on-board energy source.
Up to four demonstration trucks — both battery-electric and hybrid types — will be used.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are an optimal location for this kind of system because of the high concentration of pollution-spewing trucks traveling relatively short distances, such as to intermodal centers or nearby warehouses.
“That’s why Long Beach and Los Angeles are ideal,” said Matthias Schlelein, president of Siemens Mobility and Logistics division in the U.S. “They will feel the difference (in air quality).”
Officials hope the demonstration will lead to a reduction of fossil fuel and toxic air emissions and save on costs.
“We still have the worst air quality in the nation, and the ports, in spite of all their innovative work in emission reductions, are the largest sources of air pollution in the region,” said Sam Atwood, spokesman for the SCAQMD, the air pollution control agency for Southern California. “So we are going to need this kind of zero emission goods movement system to achieve the air-quality goals that are mandated by the federal government.”
Local officials said they support a project that seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions and lower health risks locally. The Port of Long Beach recently contributed funds toward the demonstration.
“We are also testing zero emissions and hybrid heavy-duty trucks in this same region,” said Chris Cannon, director of Environmental Management for the Port of Los Angeles. “We hope all of these efforts are successful and contribute to the goal of significantly reducing impacts from heavy duty equipment.”