EV Charging Corridors Proposed for the National Highways

11 months ago by Lanny Hartmann 68

Tesla Model S drives into the sunset (via Lanny H)

Tesla Model S drives into the sunset (via Lanny H)

Nominations Sought for Alternative Fuel Routes
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has invited state and local officials to nominate routes to be designated as national electric vehicle (EV) charging corridors as well as routes designated for hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling. These “zero-emission” and “alternative fuel” corridors are part of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” (FAST) Act signed into law on December 4, 2015.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Making sure drivers with alternative fuel vehicles can use the national highway system, rather than being limited only to local areas, is the next step in advancing America’s transportation network.”

The Secretary is required to solicit and designate national plug-in electric vehicle (EV) charging and hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling corridors along major highways. The notice from FHWA invites nominations from state and local officials to assist in making the route designations.

The corridors will ultimately be designated with identifiable national signs

The corridors will ultimately be designated with identifiable national signs

Goal to Reduce Vehicle EmissionsFederal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau said:

“By identifying where alternative fueling stations can be found we can accelerate the use of innovative next-generation vehicles, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure our transportation network meets the needs of 21st-century drivers.”

The U.S. has pledged to reduce GHG emissions by up to 28 percent by 2025.

Selection Criteria

Some of the criteria for selecting the alternative fuel corridors will be:

  • Number of existing alternative fuel facilities on corridor;
  • Number of additional planned/projected alternative fuel facilities on corridor;
  • Distance between existing and planned/projected alternative fuel facilities on corridor;
  • Visibility, convenience, and accessibility to the users on the corridor; and
  • Explanation of successfully developing new alternative fuel facilities along the corridor based on past activity/success.

The corridors will be designated with identifiable national signs like the red, white and blue “shield” signs used on U.S. Routes once the established criteria are met.

The deadline for the initial round of nominations is August 22, 2016.

The official notice with information on how state and local officials can submit nominations is in Docket Number FHWA-2016-0017 at federalregister.gov/a/2016-17132

About the author: Lanny Hartmann runs PlugInSites.org, a website that delivers news about electric car charging stations in DC, Maryland, Virginia & beyond.  We encourage readers in the area to check it out!

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68 responses to "EV Charging Corridors Proposed for the National Highways"

  1. TomArt says:

    Well, this is interesting news…can’t say that I’m thrilled about the potential proliferation of hydrocarbon fuels (or hydrocarbon-derived fuels, like H2).

    1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      But you have no issue proliferating burning of the same and worse hydrocarbons to charge 1000 pound batteries and haul them around? The logic is twisted in this, hyperspace must be involved!

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Well, thats a BIG advantage of EV’s that, before EV’s were commonplace, was an advantage that was EXPECTED to be fully utilized, – that of charging the EV at your own home over the ‘midnight shift’, to more efficiently use the existing electrical infrastructure – the marginal increase in fuel use to charge the ev’s drops to almost nothing when it is considered the games that must be played by utilities having to waste resources to prevent damage to their central stations by having TOO SMALL a load on them during this time.

        EV’s charging during this time are a perfect solution – and daytime EV corridor charging is supposedly only used on long trips such as vacations.

        You can’t say that about H2, or C3H8. H2 and Propane cannot be manufactured at home for any reasonable price the typical homeowner is willing to pay. EV’s can be charged using the EXISTING receptical in the garage, carport, or driveway.

        1. iwatson says:

          You’re probably using too big of words for “ZZZZZZZZZZZ” to understand. He obviously lives in an Amish community where they don’t use that evil electricity. I’m curious though how he can even blog on the internet without being connected to the grid.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            I buy milk often from an Amish Farm 40 miles from my home, where unprocessed milk sales are legal in NY State.

            The business part of the operation is electrified from ONE solar panel, ONE small windmill, and a 5 kw 60 hz ac alternator running off the main ‘prime mover’, a 35 hp diesel. (No utility connection for the electricity). The co-located home is all propane, true, but the ‘modernization’ that has taken place is noteworthy.

            The father, and former owner of the farm, accepted a ride from me in my Tesla Roadster when I had it, and even encouraged me to ‘go faster’ down the back roads. Too bad he died young since he was uncharacteristically friendly toward outsiders – perhaps the concept of an EV intriqued him. His 2 sons and 2 daughters amazingly seem more ‘Amish’ than he was, at least as far as socialization goes.

            Must have felt like being on back of a wild horse!

      2. Bill Howland says:

        Although to your point, the GM, Ford, and Toyota PHEV’s are probably more ‘environmental’ than Teslas at SuperChargers, since the former use almost all the electrical charging electricity at night when it is very beneficial to do so, and during the peak day time hours do not ‘overload’ the grid since they run their ’emergency engines’ to make the occassional long trip.

        The SuperChargers won’t become GREEN until Musk starts putting up huge battery buildings, solar cell canopies, or windmills next to them, or some combination of the three.

      3. digicool says:

        Clever to point out the overhead cost forgetting EVs run at over 90% efficiency vs ICEs at < 20%. That alone can speak for the lower indirect emissions while operating EVs.

      4. Jim Whitehead says:

        This is just another stupid government excuse to pour money down a rat hole that will never be built on time and budget.

        By the time government builds a few stations, they will probably be for discarded cars like the ill-fated iMiev that will sit in museums. Some of the money will just be Enroned – siphoned off and stolen by local politicians and people in Detroit, never to be paid back.

  2. GrokGrok says:

    Um, maybe they could just look at the Tesla supercharger locations? No need to reinvent the wheel.

    1. Brandon says:

      Nice idea, but I believe there are actually dozens of other good locations to place fast chargers as well. Probably the easiest part of the process is selecting prospective sites. Many exist.

      1. Sublime says:

        Exactly, you don’t want to look at the Supercharger network, but rather the SC network wish list of locations.
        Hell, just start with all rest stops.

        1. Brandon says:

          Yes, rest stops would be great, but currently there is a restriction on commercial activity within interstate right of ways.

          1. Sublime says:

            If there’s an exception for someone to run vending machines there, why not charging stations?

            1. Brandon says:

              It’s easier said than done. Although I’m not against rest area fast chargers, there are groups that will not easily allow them it seems.

        2. Ziv says:

          Sublime, I am not sure that rest stops would be the best place until we get the charge rates up to 200 kW or faster. I wouldn’t mind a 15 minute wait at 200 kW to get 50 additional kWh’s and 175 additional miles of AER.
          If the chargers are only charging at 100 kW you would be hanging out at a rest stop with no cafe to grab a bite at, for a full 30 minutes.
          Until the chargers get to 200 kW charge rates, I want a Subway Sandwich place, or a Peetes Coffee/Starbucks, or some business that you can get a light bite or a decent cup of coffee and chill for 30 minutes.

        3. zzzzzzzzzz says:

          I would avoid such deserted locations. Better start with big shopping centers. You wouldn’t want to hang for hours (at some peak time with other cars charging in front) or even half an hour in some remote stop.

      2. MikeG says:

        The interstate highway system has many rest stops where people take a break from traveling. Adding L2 and DCFC charging at rest areas would be the fastest, easiest way to electrify highway corridors.

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          DCFC, maybe. But L2 at these particular locations seems pointless, unless PHEVs start offering 15kW L2 chargers on-board.

          1. Brandon says:

            Regarding installing fast chargers at rest areas being the easiest: I grant that they are some of the most accessible locations, but another thing to consider that may actually make things difficult in installing DCFCs at rest areas locations is getting a large enough grid connection there.

          2. MikeG says:

            People sometimes sleep overnight when at rest areas, so plentiful L2 chargers will cover this usage. Also, L2 chargers are much cheaper than DCFC to install/operate.

            I do believe a couple of DCFC would be useful, even if it means upgrading the grid connection.

  3. Texas FFE says:

    Alright all of you blow hards, now is the time for you to step and start putting your EV passion to work. You need to start writing all of your local, state and government officials. Make sure your officials are aware of the alternative fuel corridor program and make sure they know what highway corridors YOU want electrified!!!

    1. jelloslug says:

      I have been doing that for years, son.

      1. Texas FFE says:

        If you were born after the John Glen space flight don’t call me son.

        1. Scott Franco says:

          I was born before it, but the idea that sex was involved somewheres betwixt our relatives no doubt revolts both of us.

        2. Anon says:

          We’re going by mental age. 😉

    2. Bill Howland says:

      I take a somewhat contrarian view here: Supposedly my state (NY) is soon to institute a $2000 tax credit to incentivize purchase of an EV. I have no problem justifying this, since the tax credit is simply less money to be STOLEN from me. Its not like I’m taking money from them. I don’t consider they deserve much of it in the first place.

      I’m putting my ‘protest’ efforts to work tomorrow to oppose a 96 mile gas pipeline that will sell fracked Pennsylvania Gas to Canada!!. I’ll be physically out protesting at National Fuel Headquarters, in Williamsville, NY.

      I’d like to see the economics of selling gas to canada, when the vast majority of the commodity is going the other direction.

  4. darth says:

    Great idea and desperately needed. We need reliable DCFC charging every 30 miles or so with multiple chargers at each site.

    1. Brandon says:

      Yes. And 30 miles in some high traffic areas, but I believe 50-100 mile spacing is good. Closer to 50 in metropolitan areas and closer to 100 in less populated areas.
      In later years as more and more EVs are on the road, then closer spacing to serve the demand becomes necessary.

      1. Mark says:

        The only problem with 50-100 my Older 2012 leaf won’t go that far at high wAy speeds . I would need 30-50 range .

    2. speculawyer says:

      You need to start with more humble goals. Start with every 200 miles. Then split and every 100 miles. Then split again and go every 50 miles.

      1. Kdawg says:

        I’d suggest starting with 150 mile spacing first. That way all of the 200 mile BEVs will have enough range to reach the stations with some buffer.

        1. shane says:

          I like the thought (every 150 miles), but at freeway speeds and with the A/C or heat on, what is the assured range that a 200 mile rated EV will travel? (especially if it was only charged to 80% at the last DCFC) I’m thinking it might need to be less than 150 miles. I guess you could choose to drive 60 mph if you are really marginal on range.

          1. Brandon says:

            In reality, for 200 mile EVs, if traveling longer distance and maximum range between stops is desired, then 100-120 miles is the max.

  5. Scott Franco says:

    Get highway 5 (west coast), 40 (south US) and 80 (mid US) and there are the major west USA corridors.

    1. Brandon says:

      Here’s a list of the top 10 busiest Interstate highways in the U.S.

      http://listosaur.com/travel/10-busiest-interstates-in-the-us/

      1. speculawyer says:

        That is a nice list to work from.

      2. Texas FFE says:

        I45 is probably not a good candidate a an EV Corridor, I45 is too short and charging infrastructure is pretty much non-existent. I35 from San Antonio to Minneapolis is what I’m going to push for.

      3. Texas FFE says:

        I would support an I10 EV Corridor designation from Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles, CA, if government wants an coast to coast EV corridor then this is the place to have it.

      4. Scott Franco says:

        “Here’s a list of the top 10 busiest Interstate highways in the U.S.”

        Yes, that would seem appropriate, but it is not. Commuters tend to load up freeways, but that is not long distance travelers, and hence would be a waste of DCFC.

    2. speculawyer says:

      Yeah . . . why doesn’t the Tesla Supercharger network cover the full Interstate 80? I’ve never understood that. It crosses the country right down the middle.

      1. Scott Franco says:

        Agree the 80 is important, but it is not as heavily loaded as, say, the 40. The 80 is mostly empty space. Its a great travel highway, but not where people are, comparatively speaking.

        1. Scott Franco says:

          ps, highway 40 was the replacement for the “route 66” of legend.

      2. Kdawg says:

        It will. Click on the “2016” map on their supercharger site.

        1. pjwood1 says:

          supercharge.info Looks like the Iowa section of 80 is under construction.

  6. Steve says:

    Simple. Along every freeway in the country.
    Then start on the state highways.

    1. Texas FFE says:

      It’s not going to be that simple. A good example would be to compare the Highspeed Rail Corridors to the Amtrak network. The government is not going to just designate an interstate highway as a EV corridor, they are going prioritize corridors based on population densities and existing charging infrastructure and we are probably going to see only portions of interstate highways designated as EV corridors.

      1. Scott Franco says:

        Agree. This is why Tesla is better at this. DCFCs need to be considered for total traffic, total number of long distance travelers, and average distance that can be traveled on a single charge.

        Telsa spaced their chargers so that an 85 would be able to go any distance, but say, a 60 could not.

  7. speculawyer says:

    YES! It is about time. Create some heavily traveled corridors with good alt-energy support. CNG, Propane, DC fast chargers, etc.

    Long-haul trucking should get corridors so they can move from expensive diesel to cheaper natural gas.

    1. vdiv says:

      …or move to the much more efficient trains. With these record high temperatures trucks are wreaking havoc on the tarmac.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Yeah, I struggle to understand why rail isn’t used more. I guess the sprawl of our country makes that less attractive.

        1. Rightofthepeople says:

          Well in part the railroads make it less attractive. They are a real pain in the keester to deal with. Imagine a business with no competition like cable 15 years ago or government schools, and that’s more or less the attitude you get when dealing with the railroad. At least that has been my personal experience dealing with the NS and CSX.

  8. flmark says:

    My 1st thought was, as stated earlier, to check out Tesla’s SC network. I hope they have the insight to do that anyway.

    My second thought is, ‘why do they really need to ask’? All they have to do is look at federal routes that have become so highly traveled that they had to make them 4 lane. Route 301 in northern FL comes to mind, as does Route 19 in WV, as does Route 15 in northern PA. If they haven’t figured this much out on their own, our writing to them will solve nothing.

    …or maybe…ask truckers, and trucking companies. These folks have software to take them over the best routes….ooh…software…do you suppose these geniuses might actually invest in some besides just asking for people’s opinions?

    1. flmark says:

      After posting, and again reading what other posters have said, this commentary is so full of good ideas that they should read all of our collective thoughts here together!

    2. Scott Franco says:

      “do you suppose these geniuses might actually invest in some besides just asking for people’s opinions?”

      The standard government algorithim is to ask the opinion of all of the best people available.

      Then ignore them and make a list based on who as the most political pull.

  9. Texas FFE says:

    In addition to the I35 and I10 corridors I mention above, I will push for an I25 EV corridor from El Paso, TX to Cheyenne, WY, and an I70 EV corridor from Grand Junction, CO to Pittsburgh, PA.

  10. M St J says:

    There is approximately 50,000 miles of interstate in the US. A fast charger every 100 miles is only 500 locations. This could be done in one year at very minimal cost. Then you have the basis to continue growing your fast charging network. Best way to get a 500 million dollar project done is to allocate 4 1/2 billion dollars for it.

    1. Brandon says:

      I’m thinking 500 locations nationwide with 2 100-150 kW fast chargers per location would come in under 100 million, but that’s just figuring the actual costs of installing them, not all the extra government stuff, whatever it is.

    2. Dub says:

      One charger at each site isn’t going to cut it for very long. Sites need to be modular and grid power needs to be installed with future expansion in mind. Ultimately, charging locations will need several chargers, similar to what Tesla has done with the Supercharger network, in order to meet demand.

  11. DNAinaGoodWay says:

    Sooner the better. The more there are, the easier adoption will be. More cars will bring costs down and spur innovation.

    1. Brandon says:

      Yup. It’s an important aspect of electrification. Here’s a short write up I did earlier this year on the subject.

      Expansion and Reliability of DCFC Infrastructure Needed For Mainstream Adoption of EVs

      http://www.nextgenfastchargenetworks.blogspot.com/2016/02/reliability-needed-i-believe-we-can.html?m=1

  12. ModernMarvelFan says:

    It should be done every 50 miles on every interstate hwy between major cities. That is where most of the cars are going in between. Start with all hwys that is I-XX (two digits only) between major cities.

    Then go to the US hwy that are busy. US-XX is next.

    Then connect all the major national parks, vacation areas.

    Then go to the secondary cities/towns/counties…

    1. Brandon says:

      Yes, that can work well. It may be overkill in areas out west, but elsewhere its great. With a station location approximately every 50 miles it would be possible to go past one DCFC on the highway and use the next one. That is good well balanced coverage if you ask me.

  13. Mark says:

    Ohio needs it on interstate 71 between Cleveland and Cincinnati and I 70 from Dayton to wheeling spaced every 30 miles so older ev s could use it and not just the 200 mile ev ot tesla with chademo adapter.

    1. Brandon says:

      I seriously doubt that any significant percentage of ~80 mile EV drivers will travel let’s say… 200 miles.
      Soon (within a year) the new normal is going to be 100+ mile range EVs, and 50 mile spacing of DCFCs between two cities will be adequate for them and 200+ mile EVs as well.

  14. Rick Bronson says:

    Fantastic. Just find a spot within 1 mile of Tesla’s supercharging station and build a charging station with just 2 chargers to start with.

    One can be Level-3 charger.
    Another can be Level-2 charger.
    As demand picks up, more chargers can be installed and also more charging stations can be added.

    Not all customers with EVs are going to depend on this as they can charge from home or from the hotel where they stay.

    So these charging stations are just add on.

    1. Brandon says:

      They most certainty need to be fast DC chargers, not Level 2, and two minimum is obviously the only option for highway DCFC like is being talked about here.
      A nationwide network like this would be depended upon for long distance travel in just the same way that Tesla’s Supercharger network is depended on by Tesla owners to make long distance trips.
      A nationwide DCFC network is FAR from add on. It’s needed for long distance travel and fulfills a very important role.
      Check out my article titled Next Gen Fast Charge Networks.
      http://insideevs.com/op-ed-next-gen-fast-charge-networks/

      1. Dub says:

        To start, a minimum of two DCFCs at each location would be needed in order to have redundancy in case one station fails.

        An additional L2 station at each location would be cheap insurance, and allow people who are stopping for longer (nap or lunch break, for example) to charge without relying on the DCFCs.

  15. david laur says:

    unless we can do something about unfair demand fees charged by utilities anything started now will face the same fate as Blink did when it nearly abandoned its network when the federal funds ran out.