The new extended gate-hours program at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach appears to be more than a year ahead of schedule, with more than a million truck trips diverted from congested peak daytime traffic since the program launched in July, the program operator said Friday.

On a typical day, between 30 percent and 35 percent of container cargo at the ports has moved during the new off-peak hours, Monday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., according to PierPASS Inc., which was created by marine terminal operators to reduce congestion and improve air quality around the ports.

Officials had set an initial goal of shifting 15 percent to 20 percent of cargo movement to off-peak hours by the end of the first full year of operation, and by 30 percent to 35 percent by the end of the second year.

PierPASS CEO Bruce Wargo said that not only were there fewer bottlenecks in and around the nation's busiest port complex during the Christmas merchandise import season, but commuters were reporting a noticeable decrease in traffic congestion on roads near the port.

As of mid-October, northbound truck traffic on the Long Beach (710) Freeway during peak hours had dropped an estimated 24 percent since OffPeak began, according to a study by the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority.

As an incentive to add an evening shift, shippers during peak hours now must pay a traffic mitigation fee. The program has been a job-generator, including more than 300 new union jobs at the marine terminals, according to PierPASS. However, some truckers had at least initially grumbled about working the odd hours, while some nearby residents complained about the nighttime truck traffic and noise.

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