This week, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will hold community meetings in Fergus Falls and Albert Lea to talk about its efforts to increase the number of fast charging stations along freeway corridors where owners of electric vehicles can plug in.

The meetings are among several that MnDOT is holding to obtain more feedback ahead of an Aug. 1 deadline to submit its Statewide Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan to the federal Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. The plan will outline how the agency will use $68 million in federal funds over five years to expand its network of fast chargers, said Siri Simons, MnDOT's Sustainability Program supervisor.

lMnDOT has identified Interstates 94 and 35 as Alternative Fuel Corridors, and those highways will be the first routes to receive new chargers, spaced a minimum of 50 miles apart. The agency is hoping that people at the meetings will help identify specific locations to place chargers, such as retail sites, gas stations and parks. Leaders also are looking ahead to see where the chargers would be viable along other routes.

"We're asking people, 'Where would you like to see them?'" Simons said. "We are promoting electric vehicles, and we want to be thoughtful where we might locate them."

MnDOT has an ambitious goal that 20% of vehicles on the road will be electric by 2030. The state now has about 26,000 electric vehicles on the roads, according to Atlas EV Hub, a website that tracks electric vehicle registrations.

There are not many places where electric vehicle owners can charge up quickly, particularly for drivers venturing outside the metro area. As of December, the state had just a few hundred chargers that can power up batteries faster than standard chargers that require several hours, according to MnDOT's Electric Vehicle Dashboard.

"It can be a challenge to travel in Greater Minnesota," Simons said. "This new program could have a significant impact on electric vehicle registration as we provide infrastructure to make it more convenient."

The new chargers would not be installed until 2023 at the earliest, Simons said.

Prior meetings were held in Minneapolis and Duluth. MnDOT, in concert with several partners, will hold a webinar on the topic from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday. Registration is required

Plans for Hodgson Road

Ramsey County in 2019 repaved Hodgson Road between Gramsie Road and Hwy. 96 to prevent potholes and further road deterioration until it could come up with a permanent fix.

Next year, the county will rebuild Hodgson with two travel lanes and a continuous center left-turn lane. It also will put in a roundabout at the Gramsie Road-Rice Street intersection along with an 8-foot-wide trail on the west side and a 5 foot-wide sidewalk on the east.

Plans will be finalized over the fall and winter, but the proposed design will be unveiled at an open house from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday at New Life Lutheran Church, 180 County Road F, Shoreview.