The very first section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was opened in 1940. By the time 1956 rolled around, the toll road stretched across the state, from Ohio in the west to New Jersey in the east. Today, the three sections of the system total 532 miles and handle more than 172 million vehicles a year. Now, the massive roadway system is ready to take its next major step forward.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently announced that it had awarded the Car Charging Group a $1 million grant to install electric vehicle charging stations at 17 service plazas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The state’s Turnpike Commission has also committed up to $500,000 in electric upgrades at the plazas to provide the charging stations with the necessary voltage.
This is a coup for Pennsylvania travelers and points to the infrastructure improvements needed to make EVs a reality in the United States. The Florida-based Car Charging Group will install Level II charging stations, which can charge a car in roughly four hours, and Level III charging stations, which can charge a car in about 20 minutes. The chargers will be manufactured by California-based Columb Technologies. The EV charging stations will be installed at the service plazas in three phases. The first phase of the work will be incorporated into ongoing service-plaza renovations between Harrisburg and New Jersey. Later phases will involve service plazas between Harrisburg and Ohio, and then along the Northeastern Extension. The project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2013.
Customers will be able to access the EV charging stations via Columb’s Chargepoint Network, which will provide flexible payment options, the ability to make reservations and mobile phone interfaces which provide mapping support. Columb says they will also track customer usage patterns and energy use via their systems.
“The Pennsylvania Turnpike has a long history of innovation in highway transportation,” Turnpike Commission Chairman William K. Lieberman said. “We are pleased to participate in the effort to expand the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Pennsylvania by offering electric car owners easy access to charging stations at convenient locations.”