On April 23, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officially notified the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) that FHWA had approved round 3 designations for several high-traffic Ohio highways. The designations are part of round 3 in a national corridor designation process administered by FHWA. They covered both compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric vehicle (EV) charging. Overall, the FHWA Alternative Fuels Corridor Designation Initiative has received 79 nomination proposals from state and local officials in its first 3 Rounds.
“The recent Round 3 nomination submitted by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission was one of the best proposals we have received to date, said Mike Scarpino, from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center, which provides technical and programmatic support for FHWA’s Alt Fuel Corridor initiative. “It was extremely well written and detailed, and we hope to be able to share it with others as a ‘best practice’ example for future rounds.”
The round 3 designations covered parts or all I-70 I-75, I-76, I-77, I-80, I-90 and I-680, plus parts of US-23, US-33, and OH-15. Details were included in the February edition of the Clean Fuels Ohio newsletter.
For round 3, most designations for CNG are “signage ready,” meaning these highways are ready for signage immediately. Most EV designations are “signage pending,” meaning more recharging stations are needed. Clean Fuels Ohio conducted the analysis and prepared the narrative and supplemental attachments for the original nominations, which MORPC submitted on January 30.
“This is significant for a few reasons,” added Thea Walsh, MORPC’s Director of Transportation Systems and funding. “It makes these corridors immediately eligible for signage for CNG while laying out a roadmap to guide EV charging. It also would make all of these corridors eligible for potential federal funding that might be available once the federal highway bill is renewed by Congress.”
FHWA designated additional stretches of Ohio interstates as part of prior rounds in this process. Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission submitted under round 2 and Illinois DOT included a portion of I-80 in Ohio under round 1.
Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO) collaborated closely with MORPC on the nominations for round 3 in Ohio. CFO conducted research and wrote a 27-page narrative plus appendices with tables and maps providing specific details regarding existing CNG and DCFC locations and prospective locations on highway exits for additional locations. The Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Turnpike Commission, several regional planning agencies, and others submitted letters of support. Clean Fuels Ohio plans to work with MORPC, other planning agencies, ODOT, Ohio EPA and other stakeholders on the signage plan for CNG and efforts to do additional planning and build out of EV charging infrastructure that is needed.