BRIDGTON — The Federal Highway Administration has designated Route 302 as an alternative fuel corridor and will install a fast charge station in Bridgton, according to the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

The designation for 302 and seven other major roads in Maine prepares the state “for a future in which there will be many more electric vehicles on the road,” Kristina Egan, executive director of GPCOG, said in a press release.

With new fast chargers for electric vehicles, the corridors “are sufficient in the eyes of the FHWA to say that yes, you can travel along this corridor with an alternative fuel vehicle and will be able to travel back and forth conveniently without any issues,” said Ben Lake, GPCOG sustainability program manager.

The corridors, which include eight high-speed electric vehicle charging corridors and one overlapping propane fueling corridor, extend from Jackman to Bar Harbor, from Bangor to Kittery and from Portland to the mountains of western Maine.

The designation, implemented on April 24, is part of an effort to create a statewide network of roads for alternative fuel vehicles.

Electric vehicle chargers will be installed at a maximum of 50 miles apart, and the state will also install signs to increase public awareness about new travel options for alternative fuel vehicles.

Although there is already an electric vehicle charger in Bridgton, the new charger will be much faster.

“The station in Bridgton is a level 2 charger, and we’re slated to develop a level 3 charger. Level 2 chargers will take eight hours to give a full charge, and we’re looking at one that’s going to give a full charge in 20 minutes to an hour,” said Anne Stephenson, Senior Manager for Public Information and Outreach at Efficiency Maine Trust.

In addition to Bridgton, ChargePoint fast-charge stations will be installed at the Maine Turnpike Authority service plazas in Kennebunk (North and South) and West Gardiner, in Farmington near the intersection of routes 2 and 27 and in Jackman and Skowhegan along Route 201. There will be two fast chargers and one level 2 charger installed at each site.

Efficiency Maine Trust has been planning the location of the chargers, Lake said, so that they could be “placed in such a way that it will be convenient for folks who are traveling along a variety of these corridors, but at the same time make the best use of the limited funding that we have available. This gives us enough spacing that people can still conveniently travel between these chargers and allows us to cover a much larger geographic area.”

The project has three phases: establishing the foundation of Maine’s electric vehicle fast-charge network, improving local access and destination charging and extending Maine’s electric vehicle fast-charge network.

Phase one of the project will break ground this summer, and all chargers should be installed within the next year. Applications for sites for phase two are due July 10. A request for proposals for phase three will be launched in the summer of 2019.

Lake hopes the new corridors will boost electric vehicle tourism throughout the state and attract more visitors to towns with chargers.

“When these chargers go in, they’re fast, but you still need to stop for a little while to charge, so it’s a good opportunity for local businesses to take advantage of. People might get a snack, do window shopping, take advantage of another service there. It’s an external boost for the economy,” he said.

These are not Maine’s first alternative fuel corridors. In 2016, the federal government designated the I-95 from New Hampshire to Augusta as a high-speed electric vehicle corridor.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected]

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