Port of Oakland Approves Clean Air Initiatives, Infrastructure Work
The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners voted unanimously last night on a set of principles, goals and early actions designed to achieve an 85% reduction of health risks associated with seaport diesel particulate matter by the year 2020.
“Reducing pollution is vital to the health of our neighbors and our region,” says Port Board President Anthony Batarse. “Air pollution comes from many sources in the Bay Area and we want to express our commitment to doing our part to help reduce diesel pollution from port-related activities.”
The policy provides funding mechanisms, including increased container fees, to generate $520 million over several years for maritime air pollution reduction initiatives and infrastructure improvements. Setting a fee structure will allow the port to qualify for matching state funds for these significant projects, says Marilyn Sandifur, port spokesperson.
The specific amount of any container fees will be determined after further staff work and analysis is completed on the best approach and the economic and business impacts of the fees.
The funding mechanisms will help truckers retrofit or replace older polluting trucks at the seaport. It will also fund ways of reducing ship idling diesel emissions while the vessels are docked at the Port of Oakland by using electricity in a “cold ironing” system, adds Sandifur. The port is also looking at switching from diesel to electric dredging in the port channel.
The port board will also be asked to direct staff to convene a public forum in late spring to consider the full spectrum of issues related to requiring that truckers entering the port be employees of trucking companies. Staff may also be directed by the board to hire a consultant to prepare a detailed report regarding an employee/trucker requirement by June.
The infrastructure work associated with the port’s Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan includes a 7th Street Grade Separation and Roadway Improvement Project, which will rebuild and enlarge grade-separated rail crossings at the heart of the port to allow uninterrupted flow of goods by truck and rail.
“The better the flow of goods movement, the less congestion, idling and pollution,” says Sandifur.
She says the current rail bridges and roadways were constructed in phases between 1930 and 1954 and cannot meet the rail infrastructure requirements for future port growth. Replacing the existing rail bridge will also involve the widening of 7th Street, a major arterial street that connects the port with I-880.
The 7th Street Grade separation project will be funded through two sources, Sandifur says. “The port’s share will be approximately $150 million and the state’s Proposition I (infrastructure and air quality) bond funds, passed by voters in November 2006, would be about $150 million for a ballpark total cost of about $300 million,” she says.
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