Michigan nominates seven highways to be eligible for federal EV-charger funding

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — Michigan has proposed seven highways to be recipients of federally funded electric vehicle charging stations, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Transportation announced Tuesday. 

The "alternative fuel corridors" will be included in a federal effort to build a nationwide network of DC fast-chargers, which can charge most electric vehicles up to 80% in around 45 minutes. 

Michigan is expected to receive $110 million in federal funding for EV chargers over the next five years

Earlier this year, Michigan was given $16.3 million in the first round of funding drawn from $5 billion for EV chargers approved through the bipartisan infrastructure law. Michigan is expected to receive $110 million over the course of the program. 

The following highways have been designated:

  • I-275 from I-696 south to I-75
  • I-696 from I-94 in Macomb County west to I-275
  • Extending an existing alternative fuel corridor on I-94 from Detroit to the Blue Water Bridge
  • US-31 from Manistee heading northeast to US-131
  • US-131 from Petoskey north to the Mackinac Bridge
  • US-2 from the Mackinac Bridge west to Wisconsin
  • US-127 from Roscommon south to Jackson

Whitmer's office said the highways were chosen to best support EV adoption and eliminate "range anxiety," consumer concern that they won't be able to get from one place to another on a single charge, "as well as the role Michigan currently holds as part of a national and regional EV network." The state also considered job and decarbonization opportunities. 

“Today’s AFC nominations will help Michigan continue leading the future of mobility and electrification by making our roads and bridges more accessible to electric vehicles,” said Governor Whitmer.

The nominations will be reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration and are expected to be approved, said Judson Herzer, director of strategic policy in the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity's office of Future Mobility and Electrification. Federal funds will be allocated to charger buildout over the next several years until there are enough EV chargers to consider it a "fully designated" alternative fuel corridor.

Michigan already has several alternative fuel corridors, which are largely concentrated in the southern half of the lower peninsula. The proposed corridors would greatly expand charging access in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern lower peninsula. 

"MDOT is eager for this next step of not only fixing the roads but also making them more accessible to the growing electric vehicle market," state Transportation Director Paul Ajegba said in a statement.

Once chargers are built along the corridors, federal officials say states will be able to focus funds on charging projects in cities, near apartment buildings, and other areas not aimed at long-distance drives. 

The funding appropriated through the infrastructure bill can be used only for EV charging, rather than fuels such as hydrogen, propane and natural gas. Installation, operation and maintenance, traffic control, signage and other types of projects may qualify.

The other $2.5 billion for EV charging approved through the infrastructure bill — which can be used for EVs and other alternative fuels — will be doled out through a competitive grant program aimed at increasing access to charging in rural and underserved areas.

The charger funding is a part of President Joe Biden's plan to roll out 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030.

The infrastructure law requires states to pay 20% of the projects funded through the federal program, and officials anticipate the funding will incentivize more private-sector investment in charging as demand grows. 

Wedbush Securities estimates it will take around $60 billion to reach Biden's goal. The White House has said the $7.5 billion to be allocated in the next few years represents "a significant down payment" on building the system. 


Twitter: @rbeggin