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Oregon’s “Electric Highway” Charging Up

April 23, 2012

By Bryan Navarro

CENTAL POINT, Ore. — Nearly a million taxpayer dollars were spent building the electrified highway in Oregon, and on this Earth Day, we wanted to see if those dollars were being put to good use.

The Central Point station went online on March 16; in the first 2 weeks, it was used 56 times. ODOT officials say the money spent is not a waste of taxpayer money and is setting the stage for a shift towards electric transportation.

Justin Denley has owned the electric Nissan Leaf for almost a year and it’s been his family’s only car since last summer.

“The West Coast Electric Highway, which is made up of these chargers. Those allowed us to make all those trips that we were going to need the car for we don’t have to do that anymore,” says Denley.

ODOT has turned most of interstate five into an electrified highway, building stations from Ashland to Eugene; all of them with the quick chargers. ODOT started with 8 stations funded by $700,000 of federal stimulus money, but more money came in that funded two more stations north of Eugene. All of it paid for by taxpayer money.

ODOT says the Central Point station had 56 connections in the first two weeks it was live, in mid-March, and Denley’s welcoming the drivers and the quick charges.

ODOT says there will be more complete information about number of charges, length of charges, how much electricity used, at the end of this month. ODOT officials say the U.S. Department of Transportation just approved a grant that would add 35 stations to Oregon. They would go along the coast, over the Cascades, and in the Columbia Gorge.