AASHTO Journal

Governors of Seven Western States Sign Pact to Plan Electric Vehicle Corridor

The governors of seven states in the West – Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – announced they had signed an agreement to create a regional electric vehicle corridor for travel on their interstate highways.

The officials said their "REV West Plan" covers more than 5,000 miles of highway across east-west Interstates 10, 40, 70, 76, 80, 84, 86, 90 and 94, and north-south Interstates 15 and 25.

In this latest multistate accord, the governors agreed to coordinate efforts to locate charging stations and develop minimum standards for how they operate "so as to optimize utilization and to minimize inconsistencies between charging infrastructure" and to leverage economies of scale.

dollarpump.jpgNews reports noted that this agreement builds on an earlier one between the governors of Colorado, Utah and Nevada to develop a network of fast-charge locations there.

HybridCars.com also reported that officials in Colorado have said most of the costs for their charging stations would be covered by funds the state will receive from the legal settlement Volkswagen agreed to in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal.

"With more than 20,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids already on the roads in western states, the electrification of these major corridors is expected to reduce range anxiety and drive further adoption of EVs," the Oct. 4 announcement said, "while transforming the market to allow smaller communities to plug into the regional system."

The announcement comes as more automakers are saying they will increase the number of electric models they offer, and some say they expect to eventually phase out their traditional petroleum-powered models in favor of a full line of electrics and hybrids.

However, that trend toward more use of EVs also poses a threat to the Highway Trust Fund. Already, its receipts from dedicated excise taxes on motor fuel and trucking equipment do not keep pace with highway and transit program spending levels. But fuel taxes are still the largest revenues for the trust fund, and so far Congress has not added any user fee to collect revenue from electric vehicles as they use the nation's highways.

Among other actions, the state executives pledged to encourage EV manufacturers to stock and market a wide variety of such vehicles within those states, and where possible to "collaborate on funding opportunities" to support the corridor's development.

"Through this collaboration, we will drive economic growth and promote our outdoor recreation opportunities across our states," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. "Our residents and the millions of visitors to our states will be able to drive electric vehicles from Denver to Las Vegas, from Santa Fe to Helena."

Idaho Governor Butch Otter said: "In the West we pride ourselves on what we can accomplish by working together. This initiative will ensure that locals and visitors to Idaho and our neighboring states have the freedom to explore the West in the way they prefer."

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said that "we've already begun to install electric vehicle charging stations at state-owned buildings, and we stand with other western states by making a bold commitment by supporting successful implementation of an EV charging station network along our main interstate corridors."

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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