Electric cars can get juice on Winslow Way

The Blink electric car recharge stations will be built on Winslow Way during the construction project. - Courtesy Photo
The Blink electric car recharge stations will be built on Winslow Way during the construction project.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The next wave of contemporary vehicles will be able to use a recharge option while their owners shop on Winslow Way, thanks to a federal grant funding one or two charging stations in parking spots near Blackbird Bakery.

“This will make us one of the first cities in the Puget Sound area to do this kind of work for the next generation of cars and electrically powered vehicles,” said Councilor Barry Peters. “This is really going to be a great effort and response to climate change and concerns about our dependency on fossil fuels.”

The 220-volt Blink charging stations will be installed on Winslow Way after a multi-million federal grant was given to the green technology company Ecotality to install recharge stations around Puget Sound and western Washington.

Puget Sound Energy approached the city with the grant possibility since the city had already been issued a smaller energy conservation grant to make Winslow Way electric recharge ready during the ongoing utility and streetscape construction. Project manager Chris Wierzbicki had included underground conduits and wires in the reconstruction design.

The reconstruction project helped make Bainbridge competitive for the recharge stations since it was already in the process of tearing up the streets, and because the city is among the highest for electric vehicle reservations in the region, according to Peters.

“We have over 50 families who made advanced reservations for the Nissan Leaf so we were a perfect community to be among the first to actually install these stations,” said Peters.

The wireless stations have an Internet connection that allows the vehicle operator to pay for the electricity they use depending on how long their vehicle charges and the energy it uses.

According to Nissan, the Leaf can travel 100 miles on a full charge, which takes about seven hours. Nissan estimates there will be 12,000 public charging stations around the country by the end of 2011. The Leaf and the Chevy Volt are some of the first all-electric, highway-ready vehicles to hit the market.

Electric vehicle operators will easily be able to locate the Winslow stations by using their Internet connection and map that indicates nearby charging stations, and whether they are occupied or available.

The charging stations will be on the curbs in front of Blackbird Bakery and the new Salt and Sea home goods store. They will be installed once the new sidewalks are placed during the next few weeks.

“This is just one of several environmentally sensitive features of the Winslow Way project,” said Peters.

Other green features

The finished Winslow streetscape will also feature nine rain gardens, which help clean and filter storm water off the streets and into the garden where it is purified.

The city is also using a specialized tool called a Silva Cell that allows trees to grow larger with  more soil while still supporting traffic loads and hardscape structures. The Silva Cells look similar to milk crates underground and allow for top soil instead of compacted dirt to be placed around tree roots and improves storm water management.

“Top soil allows more space for tree roots to grow much larger and healthier without breaking up the dirt or allowing the tree roots to break through the concrete,” said Wierzbicki.

The cells will be used for the new trees being planted on Winslow Way.

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