Siemens is testing a new concept for hauling cargo that could seriously cut down on pollution, especially in Southern California. The Atlantic Cities reports that Electric Truck Lanes, or eHighways, are currently being tested in Germany--they work like light rail systems, with special trucks hooking up with overhead power lines, known as catenary wires, through a pantograph (that thing that connects electric vehicles to the juice; you see them on the Gold and Expo lines, for example). Once the vehicles are connected, truckers shut off their gas and run on voltage. When they exit, they disconnect from the wires and switch back to gas. Trucks could also disengage quickly from the wires if they had to swerve out of the way of something.
If all goes well, the first pilot for the eHighways would be on the 710--which connects to the ports of LA and Long Beach, the busiest in the nation. Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, recently told the LA Times, "We're hopeful we'll get the eHighway off the ground in the next 12 months." The AQMD is seeking federal grants because, not surprisingly, the costs for building such lanes are exorbitant: $5 to $7 million per mile, according to Sustainable Business. But Siemens argues that the health costs that LA and Long Beach incur from diesel truck smog, a much bigger source of pollution than passenger cars, justify such an investment.
· Could Electric Truck Lanes Reduce L.A.'s Horrific Pollution? [The Atlantic Cities]