PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The City of Portland claims its plan to create an electric vehicle-only delivery zone downtown is the first program of its kind in the nation.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced Tuesday that $2 million will support creating a 16-block area downtown where all deliveries must be made using zero-emission vehicles. 

“I’m very confident that PBOT will make the first regulated zero-emission delivery zone in the United States a success,” said Tara Wasiak, PBOT’s interim director.

However, PBOT’s map for the EV-only zone is about 16 blocks, and the city isn’t banning diesel and gas trucks from the area altogether. Instead, the city said it will only allow electric delivery vehicles to park at designated electric vehicle delivery parking spaces near three government buildings in the area.

Enforcement of the program will come through PBOT’s parking enforcement. The city is also telling delivery companies about the policy for deliveries in the area to ensure they only send their EVs.

The hope is that this program will incentivize companies to use more EV trucks — and even bike delivery companies — to reach this area of the city to lower emissions.

“We will have incentives for these haulers to take their diesel or gas-powered deliveries to beeline so they can be shipped by bike,” PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera.

PBOT hopes the program also creates consistency in where delivery drivers park.

“You don’t have to bike out into traffic because a vehicle is double parked so a lot of these are aiming to create a more efficient use of public space,” said Ben Levine, the director of the Smart Grants Program in the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The federal government is granting Portland the money to install sensors and cameras at the delivery spots to track emissions, see how much pollution drops in the area and track how effective it is. If successful, the city hopes to apply for a $15 million expansion for these requirements in other areas of the city.

“We recognize that the early stages of these projects are more prototyping type activities and it will be through those prototypes, community engagement and through partnerships that allow projects to kind of bring themselves to scale,” Levine said.

There are other areas of the city that deal with greater pollution than downtown Portland, such as the Montavilla neighborhood.

“What is the greater plan down the road to address the pollution concerns in those neighborhoods? This is a demonstration project, we’re hoping that if we learn some important lessons here, we can take those to other neighborhoods,” Rivera said.