By Shawn O’Sullivan

Connecticut is proving that you can get there from here… in an EV. On Oct. 27, Live Green dropped a new pin on CT’s EV Roadmap: the designation of Route 7 as an EV Corridor, with a celebration and ribbon cutting held at Fodor Farm in Norwalk.  On hand were state, legislative and municipal officials, all cheerleading for this road to the future- each speaker adding a unique view of the journey.

An Alternative Fuel Corridor is a federally designated highway with EV chargers located no more than 50 miles apart, and no more than 5 miles off the highway.  CT now boasts 5 of them, I 84, I 91 , I 95, I 395, and Route 7. Daphne Dixon, Executive Director and Co Founder of Live Green, host of the event, noted that signage at the beginning and end of the highway showing that alternative fuel options are available, “range anxiety,” formerly a deterrent to buying an EV, is diminished.   Thanks to this growing infrastructure, worry no more.

Carlo Leone, Senior Advisor at Connecticut’s Department of Transportation ( CTDOT) noted CT’s commitment to supporting statewide electrification and the Federal Highway Administration’s Alternate Fuel Program. “Route 7 is a route of national importance. It goes all the way up through Massachusetts and Vermont. It’s going to be transitional and have a huge impact.  It’s a vital tool to improve awareness and to ease that transition as we move away from fossil fuel vehicles.” 

Carlo Leone and Daphne Dixon during Live Green’s celebration of Route 7s designation as an EV corridor. Fodor Farm, Norwalk

Norwalk’s Mayor Rilling, concurred that  EVs are the wave of the future; he also noted that Mother Earth provides what we need, and we shouldn’t be polluting her. “By everybody working together we can reduce carbon emissions and repair the atmosphere so that we don’t have climate change. So let’s all commit to making sure this happens.” 

The sponsor for the event was Juice Bar EV, a Norwalk CT company. Their Senior VP of Sales, Paul Young, is enthusiastic about their mission.  “Right now it’s truly about educating people about the electric cars and support thereof, and also, as we like to say ‘planting flags,’ and the Route 7 corridor is a perfect example of planting flags. Those flags out there -waving along the highway or the Route 7 corridor tell people ‘Hey you can charge here! It’s ok! You can get an electric vehicle!” He also echoed Mr Leone’s sentiment, “Let’s go all the way up to Burlington; let’s continue this corridor.  Young also added another nice note to the very positive day: that Juice Bar EV would be donating a charging station to Fodor Farm.   

First Selectman Steven Dunn, of Brookfield, CT is bullish on EV readiness, and noted that his town is championing this by starting from the bottom up: completely revamping their zoning laws and getting developers on board. “What a time to make sure that every property that comes in has zoning that requires them to make it EV ready.”

Jim Marpe, First Selectman of Westport, speaks during Live Green’s Ribbon cutting event at Fodor Farm in Norwalk celebrating the opening of the Route 7 Ev Corridor

Westport is leading by example. First Selectman Jim Marpe noted that Westport has the distinction more EVs per capita than any other town in CT.  He said the town was working to ensure that EV chargers were considered in their municipal budgeting, and that they were aiming for 30% of their fleet to be electric by 2025.

Barry Kresch, EV Club of CT spoke about the important role the club has played in CT’s EV readiness,  from advocating for legislature on EV’s to educating the public through events and their website.  

Wilton Go Green’s Chair, Tammy Thornton reminded those present about the important equity aspect of CT’s EV Roadmap,  with a focus on those that can’t afford EVs: “All residents across the state, and not just those along the corridor, should have access to electric vehicle readiness through public transportation and school transportation, knowing that their air can be clean even if they can’t afford an electric vehicle.” 

Senator Bob Duff brought a note of optimism. “Sometimes I think when we hear such bad news between the big storms and climate change  and all the other things that go on, people get overwhelmed and not really sure how they can make an impact.  A lot of times it’s not just the big things that people can do.  It’s the step by step things that help over time improve our environment and improve our world.” Adding a bit of brevity to explain the corridor he said, “Yes you can purchase these vehicles, and you will not run out somewhere along Route 7 and never be heard from again, and that you will actually get from point A to point B and back to point A again.” Yes, he got the laugh. 

Senators Bob Duff and Will Haskell talk during Live Green’s Ribbon cutting event at Fodor Farm in Norwalk, celebrating the opening of the Route 7 Ev Corridor.

On a more sobering note Senator Will Haskell, Chair of the CT Legislature’s Transportation Committee, noted, “We know that 40% of carbon emissions come from the transportation sector.  If we are going to get serious about meeting our environmental goals we have to hone in on transportation and transportation related emissions. These emissions especially negatively impact urban communities and communities of color ; they impact those who rely on the bus to get to and from work every day; they impact children who breathe in diesel fumes as they go to school every day.”  He went on, “This designation means finally that state and local governments are working together to give our communities the tools to actually achieve these ambitious goals.” 

As Selectman Marpe said earlier, “We’re really talking about saving the planet here, one step at a time.” Maybe that should read “one charge at a time.”