Alternative fuels

FHWA Alternative Fuel Corridors | Midwest Regional Initiatives | VW Settlement

Electric vehicle (EV) and alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) use is growing across Wisconsin and the country. Alternative fuels include hydrogen, propane, and natural gas (compressed or liquified). Users of these vehicles rely on charging and fueling stations that match their vehicle type to travel successfully. To improve Wisconsin’s EV and AFV users’ experience, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and other state agencies are participating in several regional and national initiatives to increase connectivity and awareness for EVs and AFVs. Generally, each agency’s role is listed below, though there is overlap and coordination among them.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

  • Designate Alternative Fuel Corridors
  • Participate in Regional Initiatives

Wisconsin Department of Administration

  • Administer Beneficiary Mitigation Plan
  • Administer State Fleet Vehicles
  • Administer Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust Beneficiary Mitigation Plan

Wisconsin Public Service Commission:

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Alternative Fuel Corridor Designation Program

The Alternative Fuel Corridor (AFC) Designation Program was established by FAST Act Section 1413 to create a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure along National Highway System (NHS) corridors. Current designations of Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFC) cover over 145,222 miles of the NHS.

Designations and Fuel Types

There are two designation types available for a given corridor:

  1. “Corridor-Ready”: the route has enough facilities to warrant signage indicating locations of alternative fueling stations
  2. “Corridor-Pending”: the route does not yet have enough facilities to warrant signage. FHWA coordinates with state and local entities to bring corridor-pending routes up to corridor-ready.

Designation status is based on a maximum distance between fuel stations of the same type along the corridor:

  • EV charging: EV charging facilities at 50-mile intervals along designated EV corridors.
  • Hydrogen: Hydrogen fueling facilities at 100-mile intervals along designated hydrogen corridors.
  • Propane: Propane fueling facilities at 150-mile intervals along designated propane corridors.
  • Natural gas: Compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities at 150-mile intervals and at 200-mile intervals respectively, along designated corridors.

Designation Process

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established four phases to organize designation of corridors. Rounds 1-4 (2016-2019) are completed, with the redesignation of all corridors ongoing.

  • Round 1: FHWA designated 55 routes across 35 states.
  • Round 2: FHWA solicited nominations from state and local officials for additional routes, expansion of originally designated routes, or additional fuel types/fuel stations along Round 1 designated routes. FHWA designated 27 routes across 8 states.
  • Round 3: FHWA designated 33 routes across 46 states.
  • Round 4: FHWA designated 24 routes across 3 states.

A list of all designated corridors across the country are listed on FHWA’s website.

Wisconsin’s AFC Designations

Wisconsin is actively participating in the AFC designation program. Four of Wisconsin’s five interstate highways (I-90, I-94, I-43, and I-39) were designated by FHWA during Round 1. WisDOT gathered and analyzed data to nominate the fifth corridor (I-41) in Round 2. WisDOT participated in Round 4 by nominating three additional corridors (I-535, US 53, US 151). See FHWA's interactive GIS maps for additional information. The I-94 corridor was signed in fall 2020 for electric vehicle charging between the Illinois State Line and the city of Madison.

Related resources

Midwest Regional Alternative Fuel Vehicle Initiatives

Across the country, entities within various regions are collaborating to improve alternative fuel vehicle travel beyond the FHWA’s designation program. WisDOT is participating in several Midwest initiatives with that same goal. Some notable meetings and initiatives in which WisDOT has participated include:

  • In 2016, departments of transportation in the Midwest developed the Great Lakes Zero Emissions Corridor initiative to support designation of I-94 by FHWA as an Alternative Fuel Corridor (AFC) from Port Huron, MI to Moorhead, MN. The initiative then transformed into a Memorandum of Understanding to foster partnerships, funding, investments, and research to increase adoption of zero-emission vehicles along the corridor. WisDOT provided a letter of support for the Great Lakes Zero Emissions Corridor in January 2017.
  • The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) hosted the Midwest Alternative Fuel Corridor Convening in June 2018 and follow-up webinar in August 2018 to discuss barriers and opportunities for expanding the network of AFCs in the Midwest. The meeting was attended by WisDOT and the WI Office of Energy Innovation; IA, SD, OH, MN, IN, and IL DOTs; and several other alternative fuels-focused agencies and organizations.
  • An EV Corridor Coordination discussion call took place on February 25, 2019 with participation from Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin state agencies and from the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and Charge Up Midwest. The discussion focused on potential for states to collaborate in the Mid-Continent Region. GPI continues to facilitate Regional Coordination Collaboration meetings of state officials.
  • Ongoing communication among the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, WisDOT, and Wisconsin DOA to coordinate on the topic.

Volkswagen Clean Air Act Civil Settlement

In 2016 and 2017, Volkswagen (VW) and related entities partially settled three lawsuits alleging that VW violated the Clean Air Act by selling vehicles equipped with “defeat devices” to cheat on federal emissions tests. These judicial settlements require Volkswagen to pay more than $2.9 billion into an Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund administered by Wilmington Trust, N.A. The State of Wisconsin is a designated beneficiary and will receive $67.1 million over the next ten years to offset the excess NOx pollution emitted by affected VW vehicles.

The Department of Administration is developing and implementing a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan that outlines the use of Trust Funds in projects that reduce NOX emissions in Wisconsin. The 2017 Wisconsin State Budget appropriated $42 million of the funds to replace eligible state feet vehicles and to establish a transit capital assistance grant program to replace eligible transit buses.

Related resources