Electric transport of containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach may offer hope to end what\u2019s long been described as the \u201cdiesel death zone.\u201d Under a $13.5 million grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the German firm Siemens is building a demonstration project in which hybrid electric trucks are to carry containers offloaded from ships powered by overhead catenary lines providing power from the grid. The project is dubbed the \u201ceHighway.\u201d If successful, it could lead to construction of a dedicated electric truck lane along the 710 freeway all the way from the sprawling ports to a major rail yard just south of downtown Los Angeles, a distance of about 19 miles. There, containers are transferred to trains for long hauls throughout the U.S. and even on to Europe. Extending the eHighway to the rail yard could go a long way toward eliminating the cloud of diesel soot that pours over communities along the 710 from an estimated 35,000 big rig trucks carrying containers from the twin ports each day. The ports already are the largest in the nation and the number of trucks hauling containers from them could reach as many as 100,000 daily by 2035, according to some projections. Building a catenary line up and down the 710 from the ports to the massive rail yard likely would cost $5-6 million a mile, said Silke Reh, Siemens spokesperson. The catenary wouldn\u2019t interfere with other vehicles traveling in the eHighway lanes, she said. The truck emissions dramatically raise the risk of cancer in communities along the freeway, prompting clean air activists to label the area as a \u201cdiesel death zone.\u201d Los Angeles city councilmember Joe Buscaino called the project \u201ca great example of how electricity can help power the next generation of transportation systems while also providing cleaner air." Siemens is installing the 650 volt overhead catenary power lines\u2014similar to those used by street cars and light rail systems\u2014each way along a one-mile stretch of road and is working with Mack Trucks and a Southern California vehicle retrofitter to build up to four hybrid trucks to run on the lines. The electric trucks will haul containers from the port up the eHighway and then run on auxiliary power to the rail yard after the catenary line ends. The trucks operate on electricity when in contact with the catenary lines, but also have natural gas, diesel, or onboard batteries to go longer distances. The big rigs will be able to go 56 miles per hour using power from the catenary lines. The state speed limit for trucks is generally 55 miles per hour. Air Board executive officer Barry Wallerstein said the project will be useful to \u201cevaluate the feasibility of a zero-emission cargo movement system using catenary." Siemens has tested the system at a facility near Berlin since 2012. In addition, Sweden is pursuing an electric truck catenary system. Siemens notes that trucks powered by catenaries can reduce carbon dioxide emissions as well as diesel soot, particularly when the grid is supplied by clean generating resources. The system is expected to be durable, according to Siemens, based on experience with using catenary systems for trains and electric buses. Matthias Schlelein, Siemens division of mobility and logistics head, calls the system an \u201ceconomically attractive solution for freight transport on shuttle truck routes.\u201d The technology comes as truck traffic hauling freight is expected to double by 2050, spiking carbon dioxide emissions.