Autophiles can be forgiven if the words “West Coast highway” bring to mind the Pacific Coast Highway through California, a route so famous that National Geographic places it among its “Drives of a Lifetime.”
But if transportation officials in Washington State have their way, the Pacific Coast Highway will be eclipsed, at least in environmental correctness, by the West Coast Green Highway.
Earlier this week, Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington announced that the state would install electric car charging stations along the length of Interstate 5 so that electric car owners would be able to drive not just around town, but the full 276 miles from its border with Canada to its border with Oregon. The stations are to be financed by $1.3 million in federal stimulus money.
The goal is to place public-access electric vehicle fast-charge stations every 40 to 60 miles by the end of 2010.
“What we’re trying to do is have the infrastructure in place so car manufacturers are going to want to deploy them here,” said Tonia Buell, a spokeswoman for Washington’s Department of Transportation.
Residents of the state are enthusiastic users of alternative energy vehicles, Ms. Buell said, as demonstrated by the fact that it is among the top three states in hybrid car popularity, according to hybridcars.com.
Earlier this year, Washington joined Oregon, California and British Columbia in agreeing to work together to turn I-5 in a 1,350-mile green highway by establishing recharging stations and distribution of alternative fuels along its length.
Placement of the 7 to 10 stations planned will be on private property and will require some thought to necessary amenities like restrooms, lighting and proximity to the appropriate electrical service. Because fast-charge stations take 15-30 minutes to charge an electric vehicle, consideration will also be given to what activities are on hand nearby to keep the electric vehicle owners occupied during the wait.
Most people charge their cars at home, but they may take longer trips if they know charging stations are available.” Ms. Buell said. “The electric vehicles are going to start rolling in and we want to be ready.”