It almost makes sense seeing the way the (electric) car is going – BUT it is VERY pricey to install each charging station….
ATLANTA — It’s back to the future for the village of Atlanta.
Route 66, which runs through the village of 1,600, was the impetus for the original development and growth of gasoline service stations, said Bill Thomas, a director for the Atlanta Betterment Fund, an economic development group based in Atlanta. Now, local leaders think they can jump-start a movement for the next wave of fueling stations, this time for electric cars.
“Prior to Route 66, there really was no established infrastructure of business at which the new traveling public could fill up their car with gas,” Thomas said. “All sorts of other businesses, like hardware stores, grocery stores and general stores, installed gas pumps in front of their establishments where motorists could fill up. What we think of as gas stations didn’t exist. They came when entrepreneurs recognized the need for them and built them as a way of making money from Route 66 travelers.”
The city has installed two EV (electric vehicle) charging stations in the city parking lot, just one-half block from Old Route 66. The charging stations will be available free of charge to the traveling public.
“We’re into the next evolution of Route 66, and we hope that it becomes an opportunity to promote tourism and what we have to offer here,” Mayor Fred Finchum said. “Every time you draw someone to your community, you have a chance of selling something. For a full charge on a car, it takes three to four hours, so people have time to eat, shop, and visit our downtown.”
Thomas and Finchum believe the highway may become a destination for travelers going from St. Louis to Chicago.
“Atlanta is the perfect spot for a charging station because it is right in the middle of the state,” Thomas said.
The city purchased and installed the machines, but Finchum said he anticipates they will quickly pay for themselves.
“Our research indicates that the power it takes to charge a vehicle is really pennies on the dollar,” he said.
The machines will be dedicated during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Among the first people to take advantage of the charging stations will be Joe Mikulecky, the Bloomington-Normal Electric Vehicle Task Force chairman.
“For this to work, the timing has to be right,” Mikulecky said, “and I think Atlanta has some foresight to showcase their tourism trade. It’s about public perception and thinking ahead. Electric cars are the wave of the future, and I am anxious to see how this works.”
“What you have with electric vehicles is kind of a ‘chicken and egg’ argument,” said Bill Kelly, the executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Heritage Project. “Electric cars are coming, and Route 66 is a perfect venue for them, because they don’t go as fast as fuel-powered cars. But people need to have the confidence that they can find charging stations, and so the more power stations that are available, the more people will be willing to use the electric cars. It’s a great idea for Atlanta, and I believe it will work well.”
By KEVIN BARLOW – Lee News Service Writer