The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) this morning announced its initial round of alternative fuel corridor designations as Congressionally mandated under the December 2015 highway bill titled Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
The alternative fuel corridors include 55 routes that the agency said will serve as the basis for a national network of alternative fuel corridors spanning 35 states. The network is nearly 85,000 miles long, with additional miles planned for the future to accommodate electric, hydrogen, propane and natural gas vehicles as additional fueling and charging stations are built.
FHWA has provided a map illustrating the corridors that can be found here.
FHWA said the corridors are designated as “sign-ready,” meaning routes where alternative fuel stations are currently in operation, will be eligible to feature new signs alerting drivers where they can find fuel for their alternative fuel vehicles.
NATSO continues to analyze the information about these corridors and will update NATSO members as more intelligence becomes available.
Congress directed DOT to identify and establish fueling corridors to support alternative-fueling stations, including electric, hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling infrastructure at strategic locations along major national highways in the FAST Act signed into law in December 2015. DOT was further charged with identifying the near- and long-term need for, and locations of, electric vehicle, natural gas, and propane refueling infrastructure for both passenger and commercial vehicles.
NATSO has urged DOT in meetings and in comments filed with the agency to harness the knowledge and ingenuity of existing exit-based businesses for private investment for alternative fuel infrastructure without preempting consumer demand or forcing the private sector to compete with the government. Furthering alternative fueling facilities, such as natural gas and electric vehicle charging stations, is best realized if the travel plaza and truckstop industry's business environment is recognized as an asset. NATSO met with DOT about this issue as recently as Oct. 27.
NATSO by and large supports efforts to expand the use of alternative fuels for transportation, and thinks its members' locations could play a vital role in establishing alternative fuel corridors. However, NATSO strongly opposes the installation of alternative-fueling stations at rest areas and thinks states should work with existing exit-based businesses to install them at private businesses. Furthermore, NATSO thinks that state governments should not provide transportation fuel paid for with tax dollars.
Offering electric charging services or natural gas at rest areas would allow the state to enter into direct competition with the private businesses already operating near the interstate exit interchanges to meet the fueling needs of the motoring public. In addition, state governments would preempt consumer demand for new technology and emerging fuels, effectively destroying the incentive for private sector investment.
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