Bill would compel California ports to move trucks through in one hour

| Monday, March 21, 2005

California lawmakers are continuing to chip away at ports that force trucks to wait and idle. The latest round was launched in February with the introduction of another bill in the state’s Legislature.

Under current California law, port terminals that cause trucks to wait – and idle – for more than 30 minutes can face fines.

But under the new bill, SB761, those same terminals would face further penalties if they cause the trucks to spend more than 60 total minutes while doing business with the terminal.

The bill starts the clock on the so-called 60-minute “turn time” from the moment a truck enters the first gate or queue at the terminal, and does not stop the clock until that truck leaves the exit gate.

It also requires the terminals to set up an appointment or scheduling system – something that was voluntary under previous law – and requires trucks and motor carriers that do business with the port to use those systems.

Gone from the law – if SB761 passes – is an exemption for those terminals that keep their gates fully staffed and open before and after what the law defines as “peak commuter hours.”

SB761 was introduced by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, who represents many residents near the sprawling ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The complex is one of the largest ports in the nation.

Several measures in the past few years – some of which have passed, and some which did not – have taken aim at diesel-related air pollution around the ports by placing more requirements on the port terminals, where long lines and waits were common.

The bill is currently before two Senate Committees; a hearing is currently scheduled for April 5.

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