A Mid-Atlantic partnership has come up with a program to help replace higher-polluting, short-haul drayage trucks that shuttle between the major ports, warehouses and local stores.

Led by the University of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association, the program seeks to double the impact of a federal cash-for-clunkers-style program, bolstering it with state and voluntary private contributions.

The Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program will offer $15,000 to drayage truckers to cover the down payment on a new vehicle. The program is also helping arrange financing for the truckers. Over the next two years, it could replace hundreds of the most polluting delivery trucks in the region.

"We no longer want our ports to be the place where old trucks go to die," says the director of the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, Joanne Throwe, 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 dollars to a $3.3 million base grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Private industry has also expressed interest in supporting the effort financially.
All together, the program will match the 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 are expecting financial commitments from the industry as well.

In the first year, Throwe hopes to raise approximately $1.5 million in public and private money to extend the impact of the EPA grant.

The Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program was modeled on The success of the Virginia Port Authority's Green Operator, or GO, program.