Mayor, Aldermen Discuss Electric Plug-In Vehicles, Highway Priorites

They were told the popularity of electric plug-in vehicles is expected to grow.

 


Frederick, Md (KM) The number of electric plug-in vehicles in Frederick County is expected to grow in future years. That’s according to the Plug-In Electric Charging Infrastructure Implementation Plan presented on Wednesday to Frederick’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Jenny Willoughby, the city’s Sustainability Manager, noted that a lot of population growth in Frederick in the future will be in the city’s out periphery. “And that’s important because we expect to have between 14,700 and 27,500 electric vehicles in 2014,” she said. Currently, there are 420 electric plug-in vehicles in Frederick County and that number is projected to increase to 800 by 2020.

Willoughby says the city should adjust its ordinances and regulations to accommodate this new way of traveling. She says some of the charging facilities will be provided by the owners of these vehicles, and the private sector. But city will need to get involved by providing charging stations at its parking decks, and municipal lots.

However, the city may not need to purchase them, and install and maintain them. Willoughby says Frederick officials should form partnerships with private companies which will install and maintain these chargers. “One of the things we’re looking at is possibly getting charging stations through Potomac Edison,” she says. “Right now, they’re looking at the Public Service Commission petitioning them to do a pilot project.” Potomac Edison is expected to announce this week the number of chargers it will make available to municipalities in its service area.

The report was prepared by Energetics from Columbia, Maryland. Russ Owens with the company says the city should go slow when it comes to providing infrastructure for electric plug-in vehicles. “You don’t want to spend too much money dedicated to chargers or dedicate  spaces to vehicles that may not be there,” he said. “If start off slow, you collect data on how the chargers are being used, and use that to develop whatever the next step is: whether you increase it, or you figure out that that’s a good first step.”

Frederick currently has eight charging stations, but not all of them are owned by the city.

The plan also encourages the city to look for grants to install charging stations.

Mayor Michael O’Connor says he would like Frederick to be in the forefront when it comes electric plug-in vehicles. “We still have a long way to go before we’re a worldwide leader. I’d just be happy we be a Frederick County leader at this point. We’ll take the bites we can take when we take them,” he said.

The Mayor and Board also discussed the city’s top transportation priorities. Topping the list is improvements to Route 15 from Interstate 70 to Route 26. Transportation Planner Tim Davis says this project has been a top city priority for decades. “It is our number one priority between I-70 and Maryland 26 to have the lanes added within the corridor, the three bridges that need retrofitting to be completed and associated sound walls added to the corridor,” he says.

Another project is finishing the I-270 Multi-Modal Corridor Study from Shady Grove Road to Biggs Ford Road. Along with that is the completion of the final phase of the I-70 project from I-270 to Mount Phillip Road. He says traffic in that area can be a nightmare. “It remains the bottleneck that you see on Friday afternoon you see out coming back out past the airport because the capacity isn’t there for the other people going west,” he says.

The fourth priority is improvements to Route 85. “Lot of people use this as our gateway into the city that they use 85 to come into town,” Davis says. “Right now, north of 270 on 85 is not a particularly comfortable pedestrian facility; nor is it fun to ride a bike.”

The State Highway Administration plans to widen Route 85 by one lane in each direction from Spectrum Drive to just north of Crestwood Boulevard. The $65-million project will add a new median and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps and sidewalks. And it will replace two bridges which take I-270 on Route 85.

“That whole upgrade in there is really good for bicyclists, pedestrians, and it will add automobile traffic as well. It enhances the roadway which is one of our gateways coming into town,” Davis says.

The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on a resolution supporting these priorities during a February 15th meeting. The priority list must be submitted to the Maryland Department of Transportation by March 1st.

Davis says these transportation priorities mirror those  of the County.

 

By Kevin McManus