Following months of intense lobbying by local elected leaders and community members, the state has awarded $550 million to fund clean-air initiatives tied to freight moved through local trade corridors, the Press-Telegram rerpots.

Money will help speed up replacement of dirty diesel trucks, old cargo-handling equipment and polluting locomotives and ships moving freight between local seaports and Inland Empire distribution centers.

A first round of grants will be doled out in coming weeks, officials said Monday.

"With this funding, Californians will make a significant down payment on cleaning up one of the last and most serious sources of air pollution - the downside of our economic success as a gateway for trade," said California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols.

Funding comes from Proposition 1B bond money, approved by voters in November 2006. The $20-billion bond included $1 billion to clean up diesel pollution caused by goods-movement systems statewide.

Funding includes $400 million for diesel trucks serving seaports and rail yards, $360 million for diesel trucks working in other areas, $100 million each for locomotives and cargo ships and $40 million for tug boats and other commercial harbor craft.

Local elected leaders are credited with helping stave off a last-minute effort to decrease funding to the Los Angeles region - which suffers from the worst air quality in the nation - during late-February hearings in Sacramento.

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