State has electrifying vision of I-5 corridor

Published on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 by By Pat Grubb

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The country’s first electric highway is about to become reality, according to an announcement from Washington state governor Christine Gregoire.

The governor announced June 28 that the state’s electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure efforts would benefit from $1.32 million in new Federal Recovery Act funding. The state is currently working on plans to provide an initial network of public access electric vehicle recharging stations along Interstate 5. Once completed, Washington would be the first state to offer border to border fast charge technology.

Speaking in Olympia, Gregoire said, “Providing the nation’s first true electrified highway (I-5) will benefit Washingtonians and show the rest of the country how we can use innovative partnerships to solve some of our most difficult challenges like climate change and our dependence on oil.” The electric highway will support plug-in electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, and Chevy Volt soon to be available to consumers. The infrastructure will enable electric vehicle drivers to travel the length of the state along the 276 miles of I-5 between Washington’s borders with Oregon and Canada. Nearly 300,000 electric vehicles are projected to be used on state roads during in the next 10 years.

The “electric highway” will connect Puget Sound electric vehicle drivers with Portland and other west coast communities participating in the EV Project, a $230 million project to deploy a total of 4,700 electric vehicles and nearly 15,000 charge stations in five states (Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Tennessee) and the District of Columbia.
The project will bring 900 Nissan Leaf vehicles and more than 2,000 EV charging stations to the Seattle area. The state will partner with private companies to install fast charging infrastructure in critical charging zones in unserved locations along major interstates. The first charging sites will be placed along I-5 north of Everett and south of Centralia.

It also supports the West Coast Green Highway, a tri-state initiative to promote the use of cleaner fuels along the 1,350 miles of I-5 from British Columbia to Baja, California.

Washington’s network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure could jump start the development of a regional EV network spreading across the entire length of I-5 connecting three states and three countries and serving the two million electric vehicles anticipated on the west coast.

In February, governor Gregoire signed an action plan with leaders from Oregon, California, and British Columbia to establish I-5 as a green highway by building infrastructure for alternative fuels and electric vehicle charging.

Here’s a timeline:

Stage I
Level-2 chargers will be installed at Washington’s Gateway safety rest areas for public education and outreach. Level-2 chargers allow cars to be charged in as little as 45 minutes, in contrast to the more typical eight hours for 120 volt home outlets.
Gee Creek rest area First point of entry from Oregon, located on I-5 northbound in the Vancouver area.
Custer rest area First point of entry from Canada, located on I-5 southbound in the Blaine area.
Level-3 “fast charge” stations will be developed through public/private partnerships with private firms. The exact location of these fast-charge stations will depend upon the private partner’s retail location.
Summer 2010: Identify north-south corridor charging locations
Fall 2010: Select contractor
Fall 2010: Install quick-charge stations

Stage II
Based on analysis of Stage I, additional Level-3 “fast charge” stations will be installed along I-5 and on Washington’s east-west corridor.
Spring 2011: Identify east-west corridor charging locations
Summer 2011: Install quick-charge stations.

For more information visit: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Partners/GreenHighways/electric_highways.