TRUCKERS BLOCK CALIFORNIA CARGO
Highway-jamming action is expected to end today, say sources
LOS ANGELES - 04/30/04 - Truckers hauling cargo in and out of California's ports have followed through on their promise earlier this week to disrupt and even halt completely the flow of freight moving through the state's highway system in a wildcat action against the surging price of diesel fuel.
This morning several truckers hauling container cargoes parked their trucks - or slowed traffic to a crawl - on two of Southern California's busiest highways.
Three tractor-trailers stopped in the northbound lanes of the Interstate 5 (Golden State Freeway) in the City of Commerce, located about 17 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, snarling traffic and causing a massive, miles-long, rush-hour traffic jam.
At the same time, in a separate action, several other trucks carrying containers slowed and blocked traffic moving northbound and southbound on the 110 (Harbor) Freeway which links downtown Los Angeles with the Port of Los Angeles.
Earlier in the day, several port truckers released their trailers along major thoroughfares feeding the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach effectively closing highway and surface street access to terminals at both port complexes.
Later in the afternoon, about 600 independent truckers rallied in Wilmington to protest prices, government fees and other costs they say are eroding income.
According to sources, some participating in the strike are said to be intimidating those truckers attempting to gain access to port terminals. Many trucking companies operating in the region are not dispatching cargo for deliveries today.
Terminal at the Port of Oakland experienced an 85% to 90% drop in normal business today with some 100 truckers gathering there to picket and block terminal entrance and exit lanes.
On Monday, the Port of Stockton saw the first of the week's job actions when truckers hauling cargo into and out of the inland deep-water port walked of their jobs.
That action effectively cut Stockton's intermodal truck traffic by about 95%, according to a spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad, the primary rail carrier serving the port.
e drivers said they wanted to put pressure on shipping companies to increase fuel surcharges passed along to shippers.
The wildcat action - which seems to have no centralized organization - was planned to protest the price of diesel fuel, which has risen 36 cents in the past two weeks to as high as $2.50 a gallon in California - 56 cents a gallon higher than the national average.
Flyers and CB radio chatter earlier this week asked port truckers - many of whom are independent owner-operators - to stop delivering cargo to and from California ports to "bring attention" to the fact that, while some steamship lines and trucking companies do pay a surcharge to offset the increasing cost of fuel, others don't.
California's high diesel prices are attributed, at least in part, to a special formulation for the fuel that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandates, claiming it lessens air pollution.
Trucks based in California often leave the state to travel to Nevada and Arizona to fill their tanks, while others that don't are forced to pay the state's higher fuel prices, according to the California Trucking Association (CTA) in Sacramento.
The industry organization said that of the estimated 1.8 million big rigs on the road in California, only 50,000 are actually based in the state mainly because of fuel prices and the prohibitively high costs of doing business.
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