Pol to trade: Fix L.A. congestion or voters will

Pol to trade: Fix L.A. congestion or voters will

LOS ANGELES - Terminal operators, harbor truckers and shippers in Los Angeles-Long Beach will have to agree on a plan to reduce traffic congestion in the harbor area or the voters will force a political solution on the ports, a Los Angeles city councilwoman said Thursday.

Janice Hahn, whose district includes the communities of San Pedro and Wilmington that border the Port of Los Angeles, said traffic congestion caused by harbor truck traffic is the number one concern of her constituents.

"They will demand a solution. I guarantee you that it will happen," Hahn told a meeting sponsored by the California Trucking Association in Long Beach.

A study on traffic congestion and diesel emissions in the harbor area commissioned last summer by the Los Angeles City Council favored 24-hour per day gate operations. Subsequent meetings with the transportation community determined that the harbor is not yet ready for round-the-clock gate operations, but there is widespread support for extended gate hours.

Hahn said Los Angeles-Long Beach must also expand its road and rail infrastructure, but projects such as widening of the I-710 freeway in the harbor area are still years away and will be quite costly to carry out.

Keeping terminal gates open longer in order to push more traffic into the off-peak hours is an immediate, lower-cost solution to harbor congestion problems, Hahn said. "Before we ask voters to spend more money, we have to ask, are we doing everything we can to improve efficiency?" she said.

Last year another Southern California elected official, State Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, responded to voter concerns about diesel emissions in the harbor by successfully sponsoring legislation that will fine terminal operators $250 for every truck that is forced to idle for more than 30 minutes.

Shippers, carriers, truckers and terminal operators could head off further political efforts to mitigate truck traffic and diesel emissions by working together to draft their own plan based on extended gate hours at marine terminals, Hahn said.

"You've got the momentum now. Everyone who can make that happen is right here in this room," she told the trucking association meeting.