- Reporters Desk
SAN PEDRO —The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, on Sept. 19, voted in favor of Port of Los Angeles staff’s recommendation to eliminate a never-used container fee created almost six years ago to help finance major rail, highway and bridge improvement projects.
The Infrastructure Cargo Fee, which would have varied from $6 to $18 per TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent container unit), would have been assessed on all loaded containers entering and leaving the port by truck or rail. The fee was formally approved in 2008 but never implemented.
The fee was added to the tariff – the port’s official schedule of rates, charges, rules and regulations – the same year the port was developing its Clean Truck Program and related channels to finance conversion of the private fleet of mostly older and more polluting drayage trucks that called at port terminals. The fee initially was established to help fund key infrastructure projects that would reduce traffic congestion, improve the flow of cargo and cut air pollution.
The fee was due to start in 2009 and expected to collectively raise $1.4 billion in order to secure matching state transportation funds for the design and construction of 17 specific highway and rail construction projects throughout the Harbor district. But when the economy began to slide into a deep recession, the port put the fee on hold and pursued other federal, state and regional grants to advance its projects.
The port secured 55 percent of more than $313 million needed to pay for four capital projects now being built or due to begin construction by January 2014. The port is funding the remaining 45 percent with its own revenues.
Port projects moving forward are the Berth 200 Railyard, the South Wilmington Grade Separation and two Interstate 110 interchanges. Of the remaining 13 projects that the fee was intended to support throughout the Harbor complex, only one other is exclusive to POLA and four are joint projects.