Seattle port readies Clean Truck Program for January enforcement

| 7/12/2010

Leaders at the Port of Seattle noticed a trend while preparing to implement a Clean Truck Program in recent months. The port’s business seemed to be heading upward – a possible benefit of the port’s attempt to avoid emissions regulations and port fees enacted by competing ports in Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“We have gotten feedback from some importers that they were shifting business up to the Northwest because of our more business-friendly approach,” said Linda Styrk, managing director of the port’s seaport division. “We don’t have fees here. … If we added fees and did things like that, we would be at risk to cargo diverting to other gateways, so we really steward that business-friendly and fee-free approach.”

On Jan. 1, 2011, Seattle will require trucks entering the city’s port to be compliant with 1994 model year engine emissions standards. Also by that time, all trucks serving the ports’ container terminals must be registered with the port’s drayage truck registry.

By 2015, 80 percent of trucks making port calls must meet 2007 model year engine standards, and that figure rises to 100 percent by 2017.

According to a 2008 report, at least 75 percent of trucks making port calls at the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver had 1994 or newer model year engines. Styrk said port leaders have found that long-haul truckers drive newer trucks than local drayage operators.

“We find that long-haul trucks are much newer because they need a reliable vehicle for the long haul,” Styrk said. “We’re not expecting very many long-haul trucks that will be coming in non-compliant.”

Trucks that don’t meet emissions standards will be turned around at the gate, similar to when they don’t have a TWIC card, Styrk said.

Within a reasonable proximity to the gate, Styrk said, drivers may stop and register with the port’s drayage truck registry, which issues a sticker to verify the truck’s compliance to emissions rules. Registration can also be handled online.

“We don’t want anyone getting hung up,” Styrk said. “We want to keep the wheels turning for these drivers; it’s just better for everybody.”

The port had considered adopting a day-pass method to give access to long-haulers that rarely visit the port. However, because the drayage truck registry is free and requires relatively little information, port leaders chose to stick with the registry for all port visitors. 

The port has a Support Truck Scrappage and Retrofits for Air in Puget Sound Program, also known as ScRAPS, in which truck owners can turn in their pre-1994 model year engine trucks for either $5,000 or the blue book value, “whichever is higher,” the port website says.

The port also offers free overnight truck parking for up to 120 drayage trucks at Terminal 25-South, located off East Marginal Way, north of Spokane Street.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer