Transportation Department Asks Public Where to Put Electric Chargers

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By Alex Baumhardt

The Oregon Department of Transportation is asking the public to weigh in on where to put $100 million worth of electric vehicle charging stations on the state’s main travel corridors and in rural areas.

Anyone can partake in short surveys and drop a pin on an interactive map indicating where they think chargers should be placed.

With a mix of state and federal dollars from the 2021 federal infrastructure bill, ODOT plans to install a charging station every 50 miles on major highways along seven major corridors during the next five years. Those include Interstates 5, 84 and 82 and U.S. Highways 26, 101, 20 and 97.

Money also will be used to set up charging stations in rural areas and cities, especially at apartment complexes. The department will meet with stakeholder groups during the next two years to figure out where the stations would be best located in those areas, according to Matt Noble, a public affairs specialist at ODOT.

Each charging station will have at least four ports and be built so that more can be added over time. The department expects most cars to be fully charged in about 20 minutes.

The state Transportation Department won’t install or operate the stations, but will contract with private companies to build them, according to a press release. Installation will begin in spring of 2023.

The department does not have an estimate of the total cost because they vary depending on the type of charger and where they are installed, Noble said.

The Transportation Department set a goal in 2021 of tripling the number of electric vehicles in Oregon by the end of 2023, and of expanding the statewide electric vehicle charging network in the state 10% by 2025. There are currently about 2,100 electric vehicle charging stations in Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Energy.

For now, the charging stations will be able to handle mid- and medium-size vehicles, including some delivery vans. ODOT will apply for billions of dollars in federal grants in the next few years to build stations for heavy-duty electric vehicles such as commercial trucks and buses, according to a press release.

This article first appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

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