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ODOT seeks public input on second phase of EV charging station project

Electric vehicles lined up with hoods and doors open as presenters and attendees discuss the features.
Zaria Johnson
Ideastream Public Media
Electric vehicles presented by members of Drive Electric Ohio, a statewide organization of electric vehicle owners, at the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan informational meeting. The event was co-hosted by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and the Ohio Department of Transportation's DriveOhio team on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

The Ohio Department of Transportation kicked off another round of public meetings in Cleveland Wednesday to get additional input on its ongoing electric vehicle charging station initiative.

Construction is underway for 22 fast-charging stations through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program being led in Ohio by ODOT's smart mobility department DriveOhio. But before building the next 26 chargers, the team is turning to the public to help find gaps in the network, said Breanna Badanes, an ODOT spokesperson.

"Is there a route that maybe we have overlooked that's really important to a specific community? Is there a development that we're not aware of that would just help in our overall planning phases?" she said. "So just driver experience as well as candidate locations. We're really looking for feedback on both of those."

The NEVI formula program requires a charging station every 50 miles along the interstate and within one mile of an interstate exit. Each charging station should be equipped with at least four DC fast-charging ports, capable of charging a vehicle within 20 to 40 minutes, and at least 150 kilowatts per port — 600 kW of power per charging station.

Currently, Ohio has at least a dozen NEVI-compliant charging stations, according to ODOT's website.

Students at Cuyahoga Community College Advanced Technology and Training Center gathered around an electric vehicle
Zaria Johnson
Ideastream Public Media
Students at Cuyahoga Community College Advanced Technology and Training Center learn about the electric vehicles presented at the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan informational meeting on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

DriveOhio completed and opened two additional NEVI-compliant charging stations in central Ohio within the last year, Badanes said, one along Interstate Highway 70 at U.S. Route 42 in Madison County and another along I-71 at state Route 61 in Monroe County.

Although last year, the team focused its efforts on interstate corridors, Badanes said they've since expanded to place four-port fast-charging stations along major state and U.S. routes.

"This is the first year where we're really, looking more to the future rounds that are going to be a little bit more flexible in nature, where community feedback is going to be super important as we start to fill in additional gaps, and, look at different state priorities," she said.

The first round of charging stations will be completed by the end of the year, Badanes said, and the second phase by 2025. The chargers will roll out and become publicly accessible as they're completed.

The project is also expected to have a fair share of economic benefits by creating more than 25,000 jobs by 2030, according to theGovernor's Office of Workforce Transformation.

Slide depicting graphics highlighting 25,400 electric vehicle jobs across the state, along with other economic developments by county.
Zaria Johnson
Ideastream Public Media
Electric vehicle infrastructure is expected to create 25,400 EV-related jobs across the state of Ohio according to the Ohio Department of Transportation's smart mobility hub DriveOhio.

Northeast Ohio’s existing vehicle and battery manufacturing industry could give the region a leg up in the developing EV workforce, Badanes said.

"Ohio's done a really extensive workforce strategy for this whole industry and determined more than 25,000 new jobs related to the EV industry will be needed over the next five to 10 years," she said. "Northeast Ohio is a big chunk of that."

DriveOhio is prioritizing Northeast Ohio to get more people credentialed to work in the EV sector, Badanes said.

Public engagement meetings continue across the state through June 27 and include virtual options.

Zaria Johnson is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media covering the environment.