US designates alternative fuel corridors for transportation

Thursday, November 3, 2016

U.S. federal highway administrators have announced the designation of 55 routes as "alternative fuel" corridors, capable of accommodating electric vehicles or those powered by hydrogen, propane, or natural gas.  The announcement sets the stage for further federal action supporting alternative transportation fuels.

An electric vehicle charging station, in an underground parking garage in Boston.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) oversees construction and maintenance of the nation's highways, bridges, and tunnels.  FHWA data suggests U.S. drivers travel over 3.15 trillion miles per year.  Overall, the U.S. transportation sector is a major consumer of energy, and among the largest contributors to domestic greenhouse gas emissions.  

Congress and the Obama administration are now pursuing strategies to reduce the transportation sector's greenhouse gas emissions.  Electric vehicles and alternative transportation fuels form one tool in these efforts.  Under a 2015 law -- Section 1413 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act -- the Secretary of Transportation is required to designate national electric vehicle (EV) charging, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors.  In July, the Department of Transportation asked states to nominate corridors along major highways, for EVs and other alternative fuels designated in the FAST Act.

In a November 3, 2016, announcement, the FHWA unveiled its designation of the nation's first alternative fuel corridors.  The network is nearly 85,000 miles long, and crosses 35 states.  Some corridors have been designed as "sign-ready," meaning alternative fueling stations are operational; these corridors are eligible to feature new signs showing where drivers can refuel.

The FHWA has posted maps of its alternative fuel corridors on its website.  The agency intends to add more miles in the future, as additional charging and fueling stations are built.

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