CalTrans installs fast-charging stations near Tulare

The Sun-Gazette

Stations on Highway 99 will provide electric cars with an 80% charge in 30 minutes; are part of a 22 stations through the Central Valley

TULARE COUNTY – New fast-charging stations have been installed in Tulare County as part of Caltrans’ plan to provide electric vehicles with a reliable path to travel through Central California.

The two charging stations are located on both the north and southbound areas of the Philip S. Raine Rest Area on Highway 99 south of Tulare. The Level 3 DC fast chargers provide an approximate 80 percent charge in 30 minutes to electric vehicles (EVs) with fast-charging capability. The chargers have universal connectors and are able to serve all EVs on the market, including Teslas with an adapter. Charging is free with no time limit.

“Fast chargers are essential to continue growing EV adoption in California and meeting our state’s goals for combating climate change,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said, referring to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035. “Expanding the availability of convenient fast-charging stations along state highways is significant for the future of California transportation.”

The Tulare County locations are among nine stations installed by CalTrans in the Central Valley, including at the popular Tejon Pass Rest Area near the Los Angeles/Kern County line. Other new stations are located at:

  • Junction Route 58/Route 184 in Bakersfield
  • Caltrans Maintenance Station on Route 41 and next to I-5 in Kettleman City
  • Caltrans Maintenance Station, 805 S. Lexington St., next to Route 99 in Delano
  • C.H. Warlow Rest Area NB/SB Route 99 in Kingsburg
  • Caltrans District 6 Office, 1283 N. West Ave., next to Route 99 in Fresno
  • Caltrans Maintenance Station, 125 W. Almond Ave., next to Route 99 in Madera

“With four new EV fast chargers at the Tejon Pass Rest Area on Interstate 5, and 18 others staggered approximately 40 miles apart, Caltrans has reduced recharging concerns for plug-in EV drivers on long-distance trips through the Central Valley,” said District 7 Director Tony Tavares, whose district includes Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

According to the California Air Resources Board, 70 percent of California transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions come from light-duty vehicles, including passenger cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks. These vehicles along I-5 and Highway 99 through the Central Valley which has some of the most polluted air in the nation.

“This project is a tremendous example of how public agencies can collaborate with the private sector to fill gaps in the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) market,” said Tyson Eckerle, Deputy Director of ZEV Market Development at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). “More chargers throughout the state will help to incentivize the purchase of EVs, getting us closer to Governor Newsom’s goal of 100 percent ZEV sales by 2035.”

The governor signed an executive order on Sept. 23 requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector. To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

The Tejon Pass Rest Area is about 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 40 miles south of Bakersfield and is a popular stopping point for drivers traveling along I-5. The four new fast chargers are located on the southbound side of the interstate. Motorists traveling north on I-5 can exit at the Lebec off-ramp to Lebec Road, which loops over the highway, to access the fast chargers, including one that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The $4.5 million project is funded by Caltrans and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in Fresno. The prime contractor is Cal Valley Construction of Fresno. BTCPower (Broadband TelCom Power, Inc.) of Santa Ana provided and installed the DC EV Fast Chargers with assistance from electrical subcontractor CSI (Civil Substations, Inc.) of Clovis. Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison are the electrical service providers.

In addition to the new chargers in the Central Valley, Caltrans has six Level 3 DC fast chargers in San Diego County, two in Monterey County and one in San Luis Obispo County, and two Level 2 charging stations in Napa County and three in Contra Costa County—all available to the public.

The U.S. Department of Energy has a searchable database on public alternative fuel stations in California and nationwide. Motorists can find real-time traffic information and rest area locations at Caltrans’ Quickmap by clicking on the Options menu.

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