During its October meeting, the Oregon Transportation Commissioner (OTC) discussed a variety of topics, including reaffirming the West Coast Electric Highway (WCEH) project in the Oregon Innovate Partnership Program (OIPP). This project has created one of the longest electrified corridors in the world, spanning British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico, and running through the states of Washington, Oregon, and California. 

In 2008, the Oregon Department of Transportation, anticipating an increase of electric vehicles (EVs) in the marketplace, created the OIPP through the Oregon Transportation Commission. This program allowed for innovation and flexibility in contracting and broader generation of public-private partnerships to expedite solutions for the rapidly adapting transportation system. The OIPP was used to secure funding from federal grants, allowing the state to work with private sector businesses to bring 44 electric vehicle Direct Current (DC) fast charge stations along major highway corridors in Oregon contributing to Oregon’s connection in the WCEH.

Because the WCEH’s contract expired last year, reaffirmation of the project through OIPP would allow for continuation of the state’s participation in this project with continued use of public-private partnership. 

Both the Legislature and the governor have directed further investments of upgrades and replacements in the WCEH to support the increasing EV fleets. Additionally, in the summer of 2019, the Oregon Transportation Commission allocated $3.5 million in federal dollars to support the project, with a $650,000 state match allocated through the Legislature.

The Oregon Transportation Commission supported the reaffirmation of the project. Additional approvals on the project will be sought from the commission during the process.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate