Motorists traveling along major interstates in South Carolina will now see alternative fuel corridor signs. These signs indicate routes that are part of a national network of corridors that support alternative fueling infrastructure. The Palmetto Clean Fuels (PCF) coalition, an initiative of the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff – Energy Office (Energy Office), worked with the SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to install the signs in June 2017.
In July 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) called on states to nominate national plug-in electric vehicle (EV) charging, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors along major roadways as a part of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” (FAST) Act. The Energy Office submitted a nomination to designate all major interstates in South Carolina.
The FHWA designated 55 routes across the U.S. in November 2016 that will serve as the basis for a national network of alternative fuel corridors spanning 35 states. These designated corridors aim to create and expand a national network of alternative fueling, charging infrastructure, and signage along National Highway Systems corridors.
Parts of I-20, I-26, I-77 and I-85 were designated as “signage ready” in South Carolina; enough infrastructure exists along the designated segments of interstate to facilitate refueling. The FHWA may add more highway sections as additional refueling and charging stations are built.
“We’re happy to be the first in the Southeast and the second state in the U.S. to install the signs along the “signage ready” corridors,” said Maeve Mason, co-coordinator for PCF.
These new alternative fuel corridor signs were designed to label the corridors, but not necessarily to direct motorists to refueling infrastructure. The Energy Office and SCDOT are planning to build on corridor designation by adding directional signage to identify the specific exits with alternative refueling stations, not unlike the gas and lodging signs that currently exist along South Carolina interstates.
The state currently has 464 alternative fueling stations, including charging outlets for EVs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
PCF did detailed work to determine the best locations for the signs, and to estimate the total costs.The final total was just over $7,300, with the final signage fabrication handled by SC Department of Corrections – Prison Industries, and installation was handled by SCDOT.
The new signs, and a list of the new “signage ready” corridors, can be found on the FHWA website.