Project officials hope charging stations could “charge up Hancock”

Bob Study, left, Assistant Park Manager for Fort Frederick, and Hancock Town Manager Joe Gilbert worked together to bring electric car charging stations to Hancock’s trail parking area. The town held a “ribbon cutting” for the machines on December 4.

by Kate Shunney

The future of American motoring includes more and more electric and hybrid fuel vehicles. Car and energy experts predict that by 2040, car dealers could be selling more electric than gasoline-powered cars across the globe. Just like the days when gas stations popped up along roads to fuel widespread cars, American roadways are now home to more and more electric car charging stations. Hancock is on that growing list of places where electric car owners can stop and recharge.

Hancock Town Manager Joe Gilbert said he hopes the town having two free car charging stations will “charge up” Hancock, too.

Town officials don’t pay for the stations or the electricity used to feed them.

Gilbert said the Electric Vehicle Institute approached the town in January 2018 to see if they’d be open to bringing the chargers to town.

The two white machines sit in the parking lot off Main Street that serves the Western Maryland Rail Trail and C&O Canal.

The town provided some advocacy for the project and served as a go-between for the Electric Vehicle Institute, Potomac Edison (the electric utility) and the Maryland Park Service, which owns the land the chargers sit on.

“I had to push the process through the bureaucratic channels,” Gilbert said. That included securing agreements among parties and rights-of-way documents.

Bob Study is Assistant Park Manager at Fort Frederick State Park complex, which manages the Western Maryland Rail Trail that runs through Hancock.

He said the charging stations are already working for Hancock. The stations went into service roughly a month ago.

Study spoke recently with a driver who was traveling between Sterling, Va. and Deep Creek Lake. When the driver realized she needed to charge her electric car on the way home from Garrett County, she check an app on her phone and saw there was a charging station in Hancock. She plugged in her car, met friends for lunch at Buddy Lou’s and spent a few hours in Hancock – somewhere she’d never been before.

The average electric car battery can take up to two hours to charge fully on public chargers.

“Electric vehicle usage is growing around the country,” Gilbert said. “If people have a place to pull off I-68 or I-70, that’s another attraction for Hancock.”

“It’s a wonderful partnership between the town and the park,” Study said. “The hope is that people using the chargers will stop in Hancock, use the trail, eat lunch and see the shops.”

Study said the new car chargers are just part of the improvements coming for the Western Maryland Rail Trail in partnership with Hancock.

There will soon be new lighting, pavilions along the trail running through town and a return of exercise equipment for trail users.

“The electric hookups are just the beginning,” said Study.