ITRC Seminar Series: DECEMBER

Diane M. Turchetta

FHWA’s Alternative Fuel Corridors Program

Friday, December 11, 2020
3-4 pm CT

Diane M. Turchetta
Transportation Specialist, US Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Abstract

Section 1413 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law on December 4, 2015, required the Secretary of Transportation to designate national electric vehicle (EV) charging, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors within one year from the date of enactment (December 4, 2016) (23 United States Code [USC] 151). In accordance with the Act, corridor designations must identify near-and long-term needs for, and locations of, charging and fueling infrastructure for passenger and commercial vehicles that use electric charging, hydrogen fuel cell, propane, and natural gas fueling technologies across the United States.  The designation of corridors for these fuels will help to create and expand a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure along National Highway System (NHS) corridors.  

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has led the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) efforts to designate the national corridors.  The provision also required the Department to solicit nominations for corridors from State and local officials and involve a range of stakeholders.  Within five years of establishing the corridors and every five years thereafter, DOT must update and re-designate the corridors.  However, based on the rapidly changing technology and the accelerated rate of alternative fuel infrastructure installations around the country, FHWA has committed to solicit nominations on an annual basis.  

In July 2016, the FHWA issued a Federal Register Notice to solicit nominations from State and local officials to assist in making such designations.  Additionally, the Notice stated FHWA’s goal and intent to create and expand a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure along NHS corridors by developing a process that provides the opportunity for a formal corridor designation once the criteria set forth in the solicitation are met.  The criteria was developed to ensure that the corridor designations are selected based on factors that: (1)promotes the ‘‘build out’’ of a national network; (2) develops national signage and branding to help catalyze applicant and public interest; (3)encourages multistate and regional cooperation and collaboration; and, (4) brings together a consortium of stakeholders including State agencies, utilities, alternative fuel providers, and car manufacturers to promote and advance alternative fuel corridor designations in conjunction with the Department of Energy (DOE).

In November 2016, FHWA announced the initial corridor designations.  FHWA identified 55 corridors/roads spanning 35 states that served as the basis for a national network of “alternative fuel” corridors. Some corridors are designated as “corridor–ready,” meaning that there are a sufficient number of facilities on the corridor to warrant signage that alerts drivers of the availability of alternative fueling stations. Corridors that do not have sufficient alternative fuel facilities to warrant highway signage are as designated as “corridor-pending.”   The initial round of designations was just the first step toward the strategic deployment of alternative fueling infrastructure on highway corridors across the country. 

Since that time, three additional Rounds of corridor designations have been implemented (September 2017, October 2018, and October 2019) resulting in a total of 100 nominations received from state and local officials, including portions/segments of 119 Interstates, along with 100 US highways/state roads, comprising 49 States plus the District of Columbia, and covering approximately 145,00 miles of the National Highway System (all fuels combined).
The Round 5 Request for Nominations (RFN) was released on October 28, 2020, with a due date of February 24, 2021.

Both the Senate and House versions of the next transportation reauthorization bill contain funding for the Alternative Fuels Corridor Program.  The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure included a related provision (section 1303) in the draft New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, released in June 2020.  The bill proposes a discretionary grant program, with funding of $350 M per year for electric vehicle charging, natural gas, and hydrogen fueling infrastructure.  The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works included a similar provision (section 1401) for a discretionary grant program at $200 M per year in the draft America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, released in July 2019.  The Bill includes funding for electric vehicle charging, natural gas, liquified petroleum gas, and hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

Biography

Diane Turchetta is a Transportation Specialist in FHWA’s Office of Natural Environment (HEPN) and primarily works on transportation and sustainability issues.  Diane has been with FHWA for 20 years in various positions working on a variety of transportation-related air quality matters including energy use, alternative fuels, and freight emissions.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the Pennsylvania State University and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Before joining the U.S. DOT, Diane worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on fuel-related issues.