Oregon Electrifies First Leg of Electric Highway

By · April 03, 2012

On March 16th, Oregon officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first major leg of this ambitious project. height="414" />

On March 16th, Oregon officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first major leg of the ambitious West Coast Electric Highway project linking Vancouver, British Columbia to Tijuana, Mexico.

Today, electric vehicles are great city cars. They can meet commuting and errand needs that dominate the majority of our daily driving. However, for travel between cities, you often need to be an adventurous and patient guerrilla-charger with maps to EV-friendly RV parks or other locations where you can juice up your BEV. The West Coast Electric Highway plans to simplify travel between many West Coast cities.

The West Coast Electric Highway is a project that will electrify all ~1400 miles of Interstate 5. I-5 is the main interstate of the West Coast. It runs parallel to the Pacific coastline through Washington state, Oregon, and California. On I-5, you can drive from Vancouver, British Columbia to Tijuana, Mexico. And when the West Coast Electric Highway project is complete, you’ll be able to make the “BC to Baja” drive in an EV with fast chargers along the entire route. “The 5”, as it's referred to by some locals, serves some of the largest West Coast cities including Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego. It also links the three West Coast state capitals: Olympia, Washington; Salem, Oregon; and Sacramento, California.

West Coast Electric Highway
West Coast Electric Highway
West Coast Electric Highway

On March 16th, Oregon officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first major leg of this ambitious project. AeroVironment DC Fast Chargers (DCFC) and Level 2 charging stations were installed in eight Southern Oregon cities. These stations allow an EV to travel the 180 miles from Eugene to the Oregon-California border with the assurance that there are charging stations approximately every 25 miles.

This project is reminiscent of the Transcontinental Railroad. Just as that effort opened up large portions of the country to train travel, this project allows EVs to travel far from their home base, and Oregon has just laid the first major section of tracks.

During his ribbon-cutting remarks, Art James from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) said, “Enjoy the day, but tomorrow it is time to get back to work.” James continued, “We have funding for 35 more DC Fast Chargers to be installed around the state before the summer ends.”

The eight Southern Oregon cities that received DC Fast Chargers are Cottage Grove, Rice Hill, Roseburg, Canyonville, Wolf Creek, Grants Pass, Central Point, and Ashland.

For Oregon, I-5 is just the first step. The state has plans to electrify the Oregon coast, the Columbia Gorge, and multiple routes over the Cascade range to central Oregon.

Portland currently has three DC Fast Chargers by various manufacturers, bringing the state’s current total to 11. When added to the hundreds of Level 2 stations already installed throughout the state, Oregon is easily one of the most EV-friendly places in the country.

The city of Halsey, Oregon has broken ground on its DCFC installation and expects to power it on later this month. This station will link Salem to Eugene.

Oregon is living up to her pioneering roots and daring to blaze a trail into the future - a future where you have a choice in how you fuel your interstate travel.

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