Troubles with finding a company to develop an extended-gate system at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will push the start of the late-shift program back until June 1, from the previous target of late March.

The setback is the second delay for the PierPass program, which was originally scheduled to begin in November 2004. Labor shortages on the docks made that starting date impossible.

Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Systems Inc. was selected late last month to develop the program after the first round of bids made earlier in the month were rejected as being too expensive.

"We got back an unsatisfactory response from the trade," said Bruce Wargo, general manager of PierPass.

Affiliated's bid saved the program "many millions of dollars," he said.

Plans to charge cargo owners extra for daytime-hour operations were also delayed until June 1. Under the PierPass program, cargo owners will be charged $20 per 20-foot-equivalent container unit they move through terminals during weekday daytime hours.

These costs can be offset by moving cargo at off-peak hours; owners will be reimbursed the same amount for every TEU moved at night or on Saturday.

PierPass, which was designed to eliminate truck traffic clogging the ports' access roads and freeways during weekdays, is expected to cost $158 million during the first year to operate.

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