Project will test powering dray trucks with electricity
The demise of the network of electric trolley cars that once crisscrossed Los Angeles is an important and controversial chapter in the history of public transportation.
Now there is a new plan to use overhead caternary wires to power vehicles in the region — this time to reduce air pollution and use electricity to power drayage trucks as they move cargo in and out of the nation’s largest port complex.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District, whose four counties include the area around the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, has executed a contract with Siemens for $13.5 million to fund a project that will test the feasibility of using caternary wires to power drayage trucks equipped with pantograph arms as they move containers to and from the ports.
Siemens calls this technology the “eHighway,” and it involves electrification of select highway lanes via overhead wires, which can supply trucks with electric power, similar to the way trolleys or electric buses are powered on many city streets. However, the system gives trucks the flexibility to drive away from the lanes with overhead wires and operate with engines powered by diesel, natural gas or batteries.
A pantograph on the cab’s roof is raised when the truck is beneath the wires and lowered when it drives away from the “eHighway” so that cargo can be delivered or picked up at intermodal yards or warehouse.
A two-way, one-mile mile catenary system will be installed by Siemens along South Alameda Street, and the system will be demonstrated with a variety of battery-electric and hybrid trucks powered by diesel fuel and natural gas. The project installation will begin immediately in order to start the one-year demo in July 2015.
If it is deemed a success, the link could be extended so that trucks traveling to the Union Pacific intermodal container transfer facility and BNSF's planned Southern California International Gateway, about five miles from the port, could be powered by electricity. The system could also possibly be extended up I-710 and along CA-60 so that trucks going to warehouses in Ontario or other cities in the "Inland Empire" region could make much of the way using power from the grid.
Matthias Schlelein, president of Siemens Mobility and Logistics, said that “the economic logic of the 'eHighway' system is very compelling for cities like LA, where many trucks travel a concentrated and relatively short distance. Highly traveled corridors such as this are where we will initially see eHighway being applied.”
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