By Mary Maushard
The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration’s (MDOT MPA) Dray Truck Replacement Program, marketed as “Dollars for Drays,” has helped fund the replacement of more than 200 older model trucks that service the Port of Baltimore with newer trucks that reduce emissions and pollutants. Federal and state grant funding helps dray truck owners replace their older trucks sooner than they might if grant money was not available.
In addition to reducing diesel emissions and promoting cleaner air, MDOT MPA’s dray truck replacement program is a boon to individual operators and their bottom lines.
Harnek Singh replaced his 2005 model truck with 1.25 million miles on it with a 2016 model last fall, thanks to help from the MDOT MPA program. “They paid for half, and I paid for half,” said Singh, a White Marsh resident who has been driving drays at the Port since 2013. Now, his new truck is not only shinier and cleaner, but it also gets about 7 more miles per gallon of fuel. He also said he hopes his maintenance costs will be less.
Eric Browning, another dray trucker at the Port, was “able to have a more reliable truck and save money on fuel and repairs,” he said. In November, he replaced his 2006 model that “needed some work” and had about 950,000 miles on it.
The federal funds allotted through grants from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) complements MDOT MPA’s own Diesel Equipment Upgrade Program, which targets not only dray trucks but also cargo-handling equipment, marine engines and locomotive engines.
With available funds and administrative help from Port partners, the dray program eases the way for eligible truckers to replace trucks from model years 1996-2006 with 2013 or newer models. The program ensures that the truckers will have later model trucks that have lower emissions, thus releasing fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases. Eligible applicants can receive half the cost of a replacement truck, up to $30,000, if they meet eligibility requirements and scrap their old trucks to prevent further pollution from those vehicles.
That last stipulation initially gave Browning pause. “It was scary destroying my old truck,” he said, but overall, he found the program “great.” Browning has been servicing the Port for 10 years.
Dray trucks make short hauls to and from the Port, some several times a day. Singh, for instance, drives 50,000 to 55,000 miles a year in trips of 100 miles or less. Browning averages about 70,000 miles a year. More than 2,000 of these trucks service Seagirt and Dundalk Marine Terminals annually.
Susan Stephenson, Senior Associate at The EcoLogix Group, an environmental strategy firm, helps administer the dray program. “Susan guided me; she told me everything,” said Singh, adding that the application and approval process took only about four weeks. “It worked very well. I had no problems at all.”
“MDOT MPA’s Dray Truck Replacement Program, along with our other diesel emission programs, is instrumental in the Port’s commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Shawn Kiernan, Environmental Manager for Safety, Environment and Risk Management at MDOT MPA. “We appreciate all of the Port users that have partnered with us to help reduce diesel emissions.”
With money from two federal grants and the state program, MDOT MPA has the funds to help replace more dray trucks. The goal is to replace another 57 trucks with the available funds.