Got electric? Get ready to get your cross country drive on to one of the most beloved and beautiful scenic byways in America – because it’s going even greener.
Washington’s U.S. Route 2 will become the first electric vehicle-friendly National Scenic Byway route. New electric vehicle charging stations will be installed along U.S. Highway 2 in North Central Washington State by the end of 2011. These charging stations will connect the I-5 “electric highway” to popular tourist areas including Stevens Pass Ski Area, Leavenworth’s Icicle Ridge Winery and Wenatchee’s Convention Center among others.
“Washington State is proud to announce another important step toward enabling broad adoption of electric vehicles,” said Rogers Weed, Director of the state Department of Commerce. “Partnering to deliver charging infrastructure is essential in Washington, and this initiative keeps us moving in the right direction, promoting local jobs, rural businesses and clean energy.”
Over a half-dozen additional destination property owners and public entities from Leavenworth to Chelan are also expected to announce their intentions to purchase and install charging stations by the time the EV fast charging stations are deployed on U.S. 2.
“Enthusiasm and preparation for electric vehicles arriving in North Central Washington has been ramping up for the past six years,” said Ron Johnston-Rodriguez of the Port of Chelan County, coordinator of the Advanced Vehicle Innovation (AVI) Consortium and its PluginCenter Charging Station project. “The State of Washington’s collaboration with the Port and its AVI partners has proven to be an energizing catalyst for community-wide efforts to facilitate and promote charging station deployment in the region. This investment in electric vehicle infrastructure by both private and public sectors accelerates the Consortium’s timetable for multiple activities to demonstrate and integrate electric vehicle technology into the fabric of this rural area’s tourism industry cluster.”
In addition to furthering the state’s vision for improving the energy efficiency of Washington’s transportation system, Washington State Tourism plans to promote eco-tourism opportunities in conjunction with the electrification of U.S. 2. The planned fast-chargers will be strategically located to support zero-emission, zero-oil travel along the 120-mile byway. The Stevens Pass Greenway is one of the richest scenic byways in Washington. Originally developed for the Old Great Northern Railroad, this route winds its way through dense forest, mountain ranges and green valleys, past orchards and wineries of Wenatchee, family farms and the Bavarian village of Leavenworth.
“Businesses along U.S. 2 rely on tourism,” said Marsha Massey, Executive Director of Washington State Tourism. “With fast charging stations along this scenic byway, travelers will be able to drive electric cars to popular destinations such as Stevens Pass, Leavenworth and Wenatchee.”
It’s about 24 hours of straight driving to get there from Phoenix, so stat planning now.
Follow me on Twitter @AngeleOutWest
Subscribe to this column to get periodic emails of new articles on places, food and events in the West by clicking on SUBSCRIBE TO EMAIL in the box above this story.