I-294 could soon include ‘smart-powered lanes’ to charge electric cars


A BMW i3 electric car is plugged into a charging station at the CES 2016 Consumer Electronics Show on January 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO/ DAVID MCNEW (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP) (Photo credit should read DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO — The Illinois Tollway may add infrastructure to charge electric vehicles along I-294.

The proposed addition is part of a $4 billion project to rebuild and widen a 22-mile portion of I-294, the Chicago Tribune reported. The highway stretches from near the Wisconsin state line through Chicago’s western suburbs to near the Indiana state line.

Additions could include conventional charging stations, “super-charger” stations that work more quickly and “smart-powered lanes” that charge electric vehicles as they drive along the road. The smart-powered lanes would have charging technology placed under the pavement, which would then transfer power to a receiver on the bottom of electric vehicles.

Demand for electric vehicles is increasing and the tollway wants to be prepared for it, said Kevin Artl, the Tollway’s chief operating officer.

“It’s definitely something the marketplace is adopting and consumers are using,” Artl said. “The Tollway is a consumer-driven entity. We want to be prepared for what our consumers are using in the next ten, twenty, thirty, forty years, as we build roads that last 50 years.”

The agency is studying the demand for in-road charging technology and officials will likely know how to proceed in about two years, Artl said. The research cost is included in the project’s overall budget, he said.

Michael Sturino, president of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, said the charging infrastructure could help encourage the use of electric vehicles, as many drivers fear running out of power before getting to the next charging station.

“This could really be a game changer and take the concern about range off the table, at least for those who use the Tollway system,” he said.


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