Zero Emissions on LA e-Highway

LA is testing a new electric highway between its major ports and downtown area to cut emissions significantly


What Happened?

Los Angeles is testing an electronic highway design that would eliminate truck emissions while connecting truck transport between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and downtown LA. The City selected this specific corridor due to its heavy truck traffic and high emissions output.


The Alameda Corridor connects the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where about 40 percent of all goods shipped in the United States are brought in, to downtown LA. This 20-mile stretch of roadway is used for large trucks hauling goods between the city, ports and freight rail links. Because the corridor has a high concentration of diesel-truck traffic it has created significant air quality concerns that impact the health of nearby residents, CityLab reported.

In response, LA and Siemens are teaming up to test a new road design called the eHighway. The electrified catenary system supplies trucks with electric power similar to streetcar technology, but enables flexibility of movement similar to a traditional diesel truck. The eHighway is designed to:

  • Lower operating costs
  • Lower fossil fuel consumption
  • Reduce smog-forming toxic emissions

Siemens is working with the Volvo Group to develop battery electric and hybrid trucks to run along the eHighway. Siemens is in charge of providing current collectors which enables the trucks to connect and disconnect from the catenary system while in motion. This will allow existing trucks to run along the highway with a simple attachment.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) selected Siemens to install and test the eHighway after analyzing results of an air quality test near the Port of Los Angeles. The eHighway will have four different trucks running along the corridor for 12 months, each with a different engine type and fuel source. The $13 million project is expected to be ready by July 2015, and will be tested for a year to see what technologies produce the best results.

Impact on Air Quality

A recent study out of UC-Berkeley analyzed the health impacts of the shipping industry in and around the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The study found the highest levels of nitrogen oxide and fine grain particulates in neighborhoods near the freeways, rail yards and rail lines. The impact zone of these dangerous emissions extended further in the winter months, exposing more residents to photo-chemical smog and air pollution. The researchers measured the increase in incidences of asthma and respiratory illnesses in the affected area and predicts the associated health costs could reach $900 million.

Furthermore, researchers at USC discovered children living close to a major roadway have a 50 percent greater risk of having asthma symptoms than those living more than 300 meters away. A study from the University of Georgia tried to estimate the economic costs of asthma in children, which contributes to youth disability and hospitalizations. Children with asthma miss an average of 2.48 more days of schools than their peers, and adults miss 5.7 more days of work because of symptoms.

The lifetime economic cost of asthma for people born before 2000 is estimated at $7.2 billion: $3.2 million in health costs and $4 billion in productivity loss.

Electric Revolution

Gov1 has followed several initiatives to reduce car emissions through investment in green transit technology.