Washington to build “electric highway”

Washington has launched the nation’s first “electric highway,” a network of electric vehicle recharging stations along Interstate 5. The project will be a partnership between the state’s transportation and commerce departments and is supported by $1.32 in federal Recovery Act infrastructure funding. Once implemented, Washington will have the first border to border highway to offer fast charge technology.

The highway stations will support plug-in electric vehicles along the full 276 miles of I-5 between Washington’s borders north and south. The state estimates that nearly 300,000 electric cars will be on Washington’s roads during the next ten years. Right now, almost half of Washington’s emissions come from standard cars.

Washington also hopes that their charging stations network will provide a link with other nearby states with similar initiatives. CivSource has reported on Oregon’s plans for its own charging stations network. In total, the states that are participating in the EV Project will deploy close to 15,000 charging stations across five states. The first charging sites in Washington will be north of Everett and south of Centralia. The work on I-5 will be complemented with deployments along I-90 to include Central Washington. Funding for the project will be administered through the State Energy Program which will also manage Recovery Act funds.

The electric highway project is also part of a tri-state initiative to promote the use of cleaner fuels in the region. 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.

“Washington state is a leader in creating green jobs, adopting new clean technologies and we are poised to do it again with electric vehicles,” said Gregoire. “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.”