Gov. DeSantis says millions from Volkswagen “dieselgate” emissions scandal to go for new electric car charging stations on turnpike

Electric car charging station Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Turnpike will become a friendlier highway for motorists driving electric vehicles, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday.

Using legal settlement money from a Volkswagen emission-testing scandal, DeSantis said the state will install electric-vehicle charging stations at all eight plazas on the Florida Turnpike’s mainline, a 312-mile toll-road that stretches from north of Orlando south to Miami-Dade County.

The vehicle-charging stations are currently available at three of the plazas, which also include gas stations and food venues.

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault said the plan is to start building the Turnpike charging stations before the end of the year. He estimated a construction time of about two months for each facility.

Speaking at the Turkey Lake plaza near Orlando, DeSantis said electric vehicles are becoming more affordable for Floridians. But he said an issue remains over the ability to recharge the vehicles while on long-distance trips.

“The development of charging infrastructure is essential to increasing the number of electric vehicles on our streets,” DeSantis said.

There are about 28,000 electric vehicles in the state, according to Solar United Neighbors, a solar-energy advocacy group.

Under a preliminary plan for using part of the state’s $166 million share of the Volkswagen settlement, DeSantis said the state will spend about $25 million for the charging stations. The state would start with the Turnpike but also expand to other major highways, such as Interstate 95 or Interstate 75, DeSantis said.

The Florida Phoenix previously reported on the state’s plans for the Volkswagen settlement funds. The state is asking for public input on plans for the VW settlement money through August 16. A copy of the plan is available for review here.

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