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DelDOT to use $18 million from federal infrastructure package to expand EV charger network

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Department of Transportation will expand the state’s network of electric vehicle charging stations over the next five years.

DelDOT plans to use 18 million federal dollars provided through last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fuel the expansion.

DelDOT Sustainability Director Jim Pappas says federal funding guidelines require the state to start with adding additional high-speed charging stations along Delaware’s busiest transportation corridors — I-9, Route 1, US 13 and US 113. While some chargers already exist along those corridors, the federal guidelines set a goal of one charger every 50 miles; DelDOT is surveying existing charging infrastructure to identify gaps that need to be filled to meet the federal standard.

DelDOT will follow by placing a station every 25 miles along those corridors, and then adding them in high-density residential neighborhoods lacking easy access to charging infrastructure.

Rather than building and maintaining the chargers itself, DelDOT will pass those tasks to third parties, including major gas station chains like Wawa and Royal Farms.

“The state of Delaware has no intentions of operating and maintaining these in the long term," he said. "We do good at roads and bridges - we don’t want to have to get into the EV charging station business."

But DelDOT will be responsible for holding them to federal standards, including ensuring chargers are operational for five years.

Pappas adds the national shift towards electric cars may incentivize service stations to not only maintain the chargers but add more — possibly even replacing existing gas pumps. While some Delaware gas stations currently offer charging stations, many are little-used or nonfunctioning.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.