Mid-Atlantic states seek to replace older drayage trucks

Four Mid-Atlantic States are teaming up to offer a program aimed at replacing older, more polluting trucks.

Led by the University of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association, the new program announced June 28 will target the short-haul drayage fleet that shuttles between their major ports and warehouses and local stores.

The program seeks to double the impact of a federal cash-for-clunkers-style program with public and voluntary private contributions. The Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program will offer $15,000 to short-haul truckers to cover the down-payment on a new vehicle; the program also is helping arrange financing for the truckers.

“We no longer want our ports to be the place where old trucks go to die,” said Joanne Throwe, director of the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, which is coordinating the new effort. “It’s not just the air around the port that suffers – it’s the routes the trucks follow throughout the region.”

The ports of Virginia, Baltimore, Wilmington and Philadelphia, with support from their states, are chipping in to add money to a $3.3 million base grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Private industry also has expressed interest in supporting the effort financially.

All together, the program will match EPA support dollar-for-dollar with a combination of public and private money. Already, the organizers have lined up more than $400,000 in public support. More is pending, and they also are expecting financial commitments from the industry as well. In the first year, Throwe hopes to raise about $1.5 million in public and private money to extend the impact of the EPA grant.