SACRAMENTO - A potential shut-down of the Port of Oakland by harbor truck drivers was averted Jan. 4 when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) pledged to give truckers $11 million in grant money to meet new emissions standards.

CARB's drayage truck regulations banning pre-1994 trucks and non-retrofitted 1994-2003 trucks took effect Jan. 1. The truck ban, which had been widely publicized, came with a promise of financial assistance by CARB and other air quality agencies.

About $22 million in assistance was provided to the drayage community last year, and more than 1,000 non-compliant trucks were replaced or retrofitted by Jan. 1. However, the money ran out, and some 1,300 truckers in Oakland who had applied for assistance received none.

Angry truckers met over the weekend with the port and air agency officials, and CARB came up with $11 million in additional funding. Truckers who are able to retrofit their vehicles will receive $5,000 in assistance. The cost of retrofitting a truck ranges from $11,000 to $20,000. Truckers with older vehicles that must be replaced will receive up to $50,000 in assistance. New clean-diesel trucks cost about $100,000 each.

Furthermore, all truckers in Oakland have been given a two-week grace period until midnight Jan. 17 before the clean-truck rules will be enforced. That will ensure there is sufficient truck capacity in the harbor and gate operations will remain fluid, said port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur.

Omar Benjamin, executive director of the Port of Oakland, said the grace period will help truckers to continue earning their livelihood while the port works toward cleaner air for the community.

Also, under a previously-announced extension by CARB, truckers who waited until the last minute to order a new vehicle or retrofit will have until April 30 to complete the work. However, truckers must show financial proof of having ordered the new vehicle or retrofit in order to qualify for the April 30 extension.

Los Angeles and Long Beach launched their clean-truck plans on Oct. 1, 2008. Through a combination of port grants, CARB assistance and private funding, the Southern California ports are now being served by about 8,000 compliant trucks, the ports stated.