Thousands of short-haul trucks travel back and forth from State Ports Authority terminals throughout the year. Some of those diesel rigs are several decades old and rank high when it comes to maintenance costs and emissions.

For details

Truckers interested in the grant program can visit the SPA truck replacement program office at the Columbus Street Terminal in downtown Charleston or the mobile office at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant each Tuesday. Or call 724-4048.

The SPA is hoping a $12,000 incentive will nudge owners of some aging trucks to trade in their rigs for newer rides that are easier on the environment.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control recently awarded SPA $145,000 from a federal diesel-emissions-reduction grant, injecting fresh funding into a ports program that has been running since 2011, officials said Thursday.

The SPA’s program already has helped 57 local truckers upgrade to newer and more fuel-efficient rigs since its inception.

Among those who recently tapped into the program was Otis Robbins, a 58-year-old truck driver from Charleston. Robbins, who has been driving trucks since the 1980s, traded in his 1993 International for a 2005 Peterbilt.

He said he was “making do” with his old rig, but SPA’s incentive made it enticing to upgrade.

“This new truck is more comfortable and a lot better,” he said Thursday. “It has a better feel and better technology.”

The SPA has identified as againg 132 rigs frequently used at its port terminals. It plans to eliminate 85 percent of the pre-1994 trucks that regularly call at its container facilities by the end of the year.

The incentive program has $290,000 to help take 29 rigs off state roads. Funding includes the $145,000 federal grant, with SPA shelling out $5,000 per truck, in addition to an estimated $2,000 scrap value for each truck traded in, officials said.

Officials estimate the $12,000 incentive will cover roughly half cost of a replacement rig made in or before 2004.

To qualify for the incentive program, truckers must be a frequent haulers at the ports and have a current vehicle made before 1994. They also must purchase a 2004 or newer model.

“At the end of this year when the port eliminates most pre-1994 trucks, it will have reduced diesel particulate pollution by 34 percent from its total cargo truck population in the local area,” said Nancy Vinson, who runs the SPA’s truck replacement program.

“Even as a conservative estimate, that is still a significant amount of emissions reduced, especially since trucks represent one of the two largest sources of port-related emissions.”

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.