Midwest Governors Announce Plans for a New Lake Michigan Scenic Byway Designed with Electric Vehicles in Mind

Indiana Dunes State Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

Recognizing the growing need for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure near the region’s top road trip destinations, governors from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois recently announced their intent to create a new scenic byway, the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit Tour.

The proposed byway would travel more than 1,100 miles of scenic Lake Michigan shoreline in the participating states, calling for an extensive network of EV charging stations along the way. The stations will be located in coastal communities and near attractions, restaurants, shops, and other small businesses to encourage visitors to shop, dine, and explore the area while their vehicles recharge. Some of these stations are already operating, with more expected to come online within the next few years.

While no formal national scenic byway designation currently exists for the proposed route, portions of the roads that follow the shoreline hold Michigan and Wisconsin state scenic byway designations.

State officials lauded the collaboration as a way to promote tourism to EV owners in search of longer-distance road trip opportunities with charging opportunities readily available while protecting the shoreline from damaging vehicle emissions.

Across the country, scenic byways grapple with this concern as they work to meet the needs of EV drivers without compromising their scenic qualities. Last summer, Colorado announced that it had “electrified” seven of its 26 scenic byways to ease travelers’ concerns about running out of power. Earlier this year, Washington State officials announced plans to construct eight new EV charging stations along the White Pass Scenic Byway. The stations will include interpretive panels to educate travelers about the local landscape.

With more and more EVs entering the roads, communities must balance the need to provide charging infrastructure while also considering the scenic implications of these additions to the landscape. Scenic America outlines its recommendations for communities exploring these decisions here.