Arlington, VA

Delivery trucks are a frequent topic of complaints from Arlington residents.

Aside from double parking issues, they’re noisy and polluting. When you live near a truck loading dock, you often dread early morning deliveries and the “beep beep beep” of a truck going in reverse. The county often requires that new developments limit loading dock hours, as a condition of approval.

But what if the noisy idling, shrill beeps and diesel fumes could be a thing of the past? That is a future that Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall is seeking to hasten.

Electric trucks, which are poised to become an increasingly common sight on the roads over the course of the decade, are the solution to many of the current delivery truck complains. Gutshall says Arlington County should take proactive measure to encourage their adoption — “some extra oomph,” as he puts it.

Cautioning that “the idea is very conceptual at this point,” Gutshall said the general idea would be to give electric delivery trucks special privileges, via development site plans and other regulatory means, for things like longer loading dock hours and designated curbside loading spaces on public roads.

Rewarding electric truck owners, instead of punishing fossil fuel truck owners, should “stay within a legally defensible framework” when it comes to the Dillon Rule in Virginia, he said. And if it doesn’t, the now-Democratic controlled state legislature could also carve out permission for localities to pass such ordinances.

“Update the regulations to accommodate the reality of modern life,” he said.

Gutshall plans to raise the idea, which he tweeted about last month, with his colleagues on the County Board in the near future — perhaps during an upcoming discussion on curbside management. Should it prove politically feasible, the next steps would include a public engagement process and legal review.

Electric trucks will come with the added benefit of helping Arlington achieve some of its Community Energy Plan goals.

“This is not just an Arlington issue,” Gutshall told ARLnow. “There are lots of other communities developing climate action plans and everyone knows that vehicle emissions are a huge part of the overall emission profile.”

“Any boost we can give to push early adopters out of the nest,” Gutshall said, will “help get other jurisdictions to do the same.”

Photo via Tesla

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