SEATTLE (AP) — A string of public electric vehicle charging stations are being installed along Interstate 5 in the Northwest as part of a project that would allow drivers to cruise the 580 miles from the southern border of Oregon all the way to Canada.

Local and state officials on Wednesday are announcing work on the first fast-charging station planned for Washington — at the Sehome Village Shopping Center in Bellingham.

Nine fast-charging stations were supposed to be completed by the end of this year, but they won’t be up and running until spring, said Tonia Buell, a state transportation spokeswoman. It has taken much longer for the contractor, AeroVironment, to get lease agreements signed with retailers, so they got an extension to complete the work by March, Buell said.

AeroVironment is also installing eight stations on I-5 in southern Oregon as part of the proposed West Coast Green Highway that would eventually allow electric-car drivers the freedom to travel the 1,350 miles of I-5 from Canada to Mexico.

Drivers will be able to fully charge electric vehicles in less than 30 minutes with level-3 DC fast-chargers, or in several hours with level-2 medium-speed chargers, officials said.

Proponents say the network will make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers and businesses and will help reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

In Oregon, six stations along I-5 have been completed and work is under way on two more stations, said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Art James. They should be fired up by late January, he said. Along I-5, the stations will be located in cities including Eugene, Medford, Roseburg and Ashland.

In Washington, six stations will be installed every 40 to 60 miles in the I-5 stretch between Everett and the Canadian border and between Olympia and the Oregon border. They’ll be located in Bellingham, Burlington, Centralia, Olympia, Longview and Ridgefield.

As part of Washington’s green highway project, three charging stations will be located along Highway 2 — in Monroe, Skykomish and Leavenwort. Two additional locations have been announced for Interstate 90 and will likely be at Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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