Oregon DOT Plugs Underserved Areas into EV Infrastructure

The Oregon Department of Transportation is spending $1.75 million to help companies, schools, apartment building owners, small towns, and other groups build 370 new public Level 2 electric vehicle or EV charging ports in rural and disadvantaged areas.

[Above photo by the Oregon DOT]

The Community Charging Rebates Program is one way Oregon DOT is trying to beef up the state’s EV charging infrastructure to simultaneously encourage and meet the demand for zero-emission vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A 2022 Oregon DOT study noted that the state will need about 17,000 Level 2 charging ports by 2025 to meet a goal of 250,000 registered EVs in the state.

Under the program, which is 100 percent state funded, organizations can get rebates of up to 75 percent of the cost of buying and installing EV charging stations at multifamily homes and public parking areas. ODOT reserved 70 percent of the first funding round to applicants who would build EV charging stations in rural or disadvantaged communities.

“Some sections of the state have EV charging gaps,” noted Oregon DOT spokesman Matt Noble. “These are populations we serve that haven’t seen the level of EV infrastructure investment as other areas.”

Of the 94 projects receiving awards via this program, 79 are in rural or disadvantaged communities, according to an agency statement. Noble added the response to the program was “overwhelmingly positive,” so Oregon DOT plans to do a second round of funding in March 2024.

The money for the Community Charging Rebates program is from a $100 million federal-state fund the Oregon Transportation Commission created in 2022 to build out the EV charging infrastructure. Most of that money is going toward Alternative Fuel Corridors; routes approved by the Federal Highway Administration where states may use federal funding to build alternative fuel infrastructure. In Oregon, those routes include seven interstate highways.

The remaining $36 million – all state cash – is being used to build charging stations in places that are not along those corridors. By growing the charging infrastructure in those areas, the Oregon DOT is hoping to overcome one of the biggest hurdles to EV ownership: range anxiety.

Oregon has more than doubled the number of registered EVs in the state since 2020, from less than 23,000 to about 51,000, according to statistics from the Oregon Department of Energy. There are about 2,800 Level 2 and fast-charging ports across the state, a ratio of one port for every 18 vehicles.

That’s fewer than the national average of about 15 vehicles per port, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

For a broader look at EV infrastructure advancement, the Alternative Fuels Data Center – operated by the DOE – maintains state-by-state information on the number and types of EV stations and ports, as well as a breakdown of all alternative fuel stations, such as biodiesel and propane.

Other state departments of transportation are also engaging in efforts to build out EV support infrastructure.

For example, the Utah Department of Transportation recently announced plans to double the state’s current fast charging capacity for electric vehicles by the end of 2024 with the addition of 15 new sites funded through the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure or NEVI Formula Program launched in 2022.

Since 2015, the agency said the number of EVs in Utah has grown by an average of 48 percent year over year – and the rate of growth is climbing. To meet this increasing need, the Utah DOT – together with the Utah Office of Energy Development – identified 15 strategic sites for EV fast chargers on major state roads. In response, private entities submitted 75 applications to match their private fund with NEVI funding.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Department of Transportation introduced a new tool in June to help local governments and agencies dip into $2.5 billion in federal grants to build an electric vehicle or EV charging network.

The agency’s EV Charger Siting Tool is a map-based website that helps the user select those communities and charging sites in Maryland that have the best chance of securing grants under Federal Highway Administration’s Charging and Fueling Infrastructure or CFI discretionary grant program, funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021.

The tool consolidates geographic data on existing chargers, registered EV users, disadvantaged communities, alternative fuel corridors, and “marginalized and underserved communities targeted for investment to address climate change and clean energy needs,” the Maryland DOT noted.

TxDOT Highlights Work with Native American Tribes

To help honor and preserve Native American history in Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation recently highlighted the cultural resources it developed to further bolster its relationship with the 28 federally-recognized tribes connected to the Lone Star state.

[Above image by TxDOT]

As part of that effort, in early 2023, TxDOT published Texas & Tribes: A Shared Tradition to tell the stories of those tribes and their role in Texas history and culture.

“Every day, TxDOT cultural resources staff learn more about Texas history and the people that made homes here, including Native American history, as part of our environmental planning,” explained Rebekah Dobrasko, TxDOT’s cultural resources director, in a statement. “We wanted to publish ‘Texas & Tribes’ to connect people with Texas history and show how Native American tribes played key roles in our history and culture.”

Little known pieces of history fill this book, as hundreds of different tribes lived in Texas for at least 15,000 years before the arrival of Europeans – including the Caddo, Comanche, Apache, Kiowa, Choctaw, Kickapoo and Tonkawa. Today, TxDOT said communities across the state have incorporated many of the early traditions of those tribes, including transportation routes, culinary practices and ways of life.

“We believe it is critical to work with tribal leaders on this history, because knowing these important cultural stories and historic places can help TxDOT plan to avoid them during our transportation projects,” Dobrasko pointed out. “Sharing and honoring this history is important to tribes, and TxDOT is committed to deepening our relationship with our tribal partners.”

Other state departments of transportation across the country are engaged in similar efforts.

For example, one of the newest “next generation” highway rest areas built and maintained by the Iowa Department of Transportation also doubles as a museum of Native American culture.

Traveling northbound on Interstate 29 in western Iowa, the agency’s newest rest area is nestled near the Loess Hills just west of Glenwood and highlights the history of the Native American tribes of that area and how they are connected to what archaeologists call the “Central Plains Tradition.”

Meanwhile, in September, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation highlighted how federal funding is helping the department create a Tribal Technical Assistance Program or TTAP Center for 65 tribal nations across 30 states.

The Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory or TOPS Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently received a two-year $625,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Wisconsin DOT said it will work with the school to create a TTAP Center to support transportation investments on tribal lands and other tribal initiatives related to training, technical assistance and technology services.

Also, in January 2022, the Colorado Department of Transportation debuted a documentary called “Durango 550: Path of the Ancestral Puebloans” to show how the agency worked with archaeologists and regional Native American tribes to document, study, and ultimately share the discoveries unearthed near Durango in southwest Colorado. 

Environmental News Highlights – December 6, 2023


AASHTO Holds Winter Meeting on Public Transit Issues -AASHTO Journal

Tackling the Climate Crisis -Department of Interior

Transportation, Infrastructure Move Toward Electrification -Government Technology

Cities can achieve sustainability wins with micro transportation, green infrastructure and climate resilience planning -American City & County

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces New Thought Leadership Series “Up, Up, and Away: Innovations in Advanced Air Mobility -FAA (media release)



Has the pandemic forever changed our walking habits? -Talking Michigan Transportation podcast



Hawaii DOT Helping with Emergency Stormwater Project -AASHTO Journal

Connecticut Moves To Soften EV Mandate –ClearTechnica

San Diegans love their cars. SANDAG wants employers to encourage a different way to commute –inewssource

Massachusetts launches ResilientCoast initiative -WCVB-TV

Detroit touts first wireless-charging public road for electric vehicles in US -Detroit Free Press

New York City redesigning thousands of intersections to make them safer for pedestrians -WCBS-TV



Railroads take on EPA’s pollution-reporting proposal –Freightwaves

Air pollution from heavy traffic can raise blood pressure, researchers say -Medical News Today

Reaching for air: How a historic mistake led to Salt Lake City’s pollution nightmare -KUER Radio/Salt Lake Tribune



Republicans’ EJ battle plan –Axios

Where Is Noise Pollution The Worst? Redlined Neighborhoods –Grist

Braille signage installed on all 8,400+ bus stops in Metro Vancouver, BC -TransLink (blog)

Biden-⁠Harris Administration Continues to Accelerate Environmental Justice in Disadvantaged Communities through the President’s Investing in America Agenda -White House (media release)



Florida’s coral reefs are recovering after record high ocean temperatures –NPR

Feds give grant to study wildlife crossings in Virginia -Cardinal News


NCDOT Seeks Entries for Yearly Aviation Art Contest -AASHTO Journal

Crossing paths: New photography project takes aim at the impacts of transportation on wildlife -Canadian Geographic

America’s last lighthouse keeper is retiring. She, and her light, are ready. -Christian Science Monitor

Honoring Native American Heritage Month -Voices for Public Transportation (blog)


DC could ban cars in 3 corridors and create pedestrian zones -WTOP Radio

Walkers and cyclists added to Nebraska’s road safety plan for the first time -Omaha World-Herald

Key stretch of Adirondack Rail Trail is complete between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid -Adirondack Explorer

Santa Barbara, California Public Library Helping People Try E-Bikes For Free -Yale Climate Connections

NTSB to Hold Summit on Pilot Mental Health -NTSB (media release)


Exploring the Future of Public Transportation Research: A National Online Dialogue –FTA


Fiscal Year 2024 Competitive Funding Opportunity: All Stations Accessibility Program -FTA (Notice of funding opportunity)

Notice of Availability and Extension of Comment Period for the Preliminary Designation of Certain Stormwater Discharges Within Two Watersheds in Los Angeles County, California Under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System of the Clean Water ActEPA (Notice)

Federal Land Managers’ Air Quality Related Values Work Group (FLAG); Draft Addendum to 2010 Phase 1 Report -Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service (Notice of availability)

Request for Information on the Coast Guard Implementation of a Western Alaska Oil Spill Planning Criteria Program -Coast Guard (Request for information)

Forest Service Manual 2000 National Forest Resource Management; Chapter 2040 National Forest System Monitoring -Forest Service (Notice of availability for public comment)

Notice of Availability of a Joint Record of Decision for the Proposed Empire Offshore Wind Projects -Bureau of Ocean Energy and National Marine Fisheries Service (Notice)

Decommissioning and Disposition of the National Historic Landmark Nuclear Ship Savannah; Notice of Site Visit -Maritime Administration (Notice)