NITC invites new pooled-fund research problem statements

posted on Monday, March 2, 2015 - 12:00pm

To help maximize the US Department of Transportation’s commitment to livable communities, NITC has opened a second round of funding for the Transportation for Livable Communities Pooled-Fund Research program.

This program gives regional and local agencies more opportunity to be invested in research with a national impact. Through the program, cities, counties, MPOs and other regional or local agencies can pool research dollars to leverage NITC funds for a single project.

We are currently seeking partners to identify research needs. In the second round of Pooled-Fund Research, partnering agencies will work with NITC staff to develop a clear problem statement.

Once the research problem statement is identified, NITC will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to faculty and investigators at our partner universities.

Who can submit?

Any agency such as a city, metropolitan planning organization, county, transit agency, etc. can submit research problem statements relating to NITC’s theme of livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability. NITC expects that the agency or group of agencies submitting a problem statement will pool funds to contribute to half the cost of the project and be a member of the technical advisory committee.

We are asking that agency partners provide non-federal dollars that can be used to match the NITC...

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The Federal Transit Administration has announced a $945,000 grant for a Portland State University project to help transportation agencies respond to regional emergencies. The project is led by TREC, with partners TriMet, the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and Metro.

The announcement came as part of $29 million in grants through the FTA’s Innovative Safety, Resiliency, and All-Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Demonstration program. The grants will help transit agencies improve safety, better withstand natural disasters, and respond more effectively to emergencies. A list of selected projects is available online.

The TREC project will develop and test a transportation demand management system that uses social media and intelligent transportation systems for large-scale emergency response and recovery. While managing demand is a cornerstone of campaigns to reduce private vehicle trips, it is often absent from emergency recovery plans, said project lead John MacArthur of TREC.

“This looks at how transit can be a reliable backbone to keep a city functioning,” MacArthur said. “That means during the response period, but also during recovery, which can last a long time.”

Agency partners expressed enthusiasm for the collaborative approach to an issue they all face.

Students from area high schools explored the sustainable transportation research Portland State University is known for during tours Feb. 11-12. The tours, led by the researchers themselves, were part of the Portland State High School Innovation Challenge competition.

Groups from Grant and Franklin high schools in Portland heard from TREC researchers and got behind-the-scenes looks at the technology behind transportation systems. John MacArthur, Sirisha Kothuri, Alex Bigazzi, Miguel Figliozzi and Krista Nordback shared their research and insights.

Student teams from nine teams will now work on proposals to solve a problem related to this year’s theme, smart cities. The teams work with Portland State student mentors majoring in engineering or computer science. Teams will compete and present their final projects before judges in early April.

Now in its third year, the competition was designed to provide a first look at engineering for high school students, particularly those who previously hadn’t considered the field. The competition focuses on the ways engineering and design can help people and solve real-world problems.

When Portland State University student Marisa DeMull signed up for the summer 2014 study abroad course in the Netherlands, she wasn't necessarily looking for a new major. A civil engineering student, DeMull thought the summer program just sounded like a great way to get course credit.

DeMull learned that she could get six credits for the two-week program and applied immediately, a week from the deadline.

“I tried spreading the word. It’s the best program, and so few people really know about it, which is unfortunate,” DeMull said.

After two weeks in Delft and a series of lectures, bike tours, and eye-opening conversations, the PSU senior returned home to Portland State and declared a change in her program of study: she would now focus on transportation, a sub-field within civil engineering.

"Until this trip, I didn't really know that was a career choice," DeMull said. "I love riding bikes, but to design bike routes for a living? I met all these engineers who are completely devoted to bicycles, who just live and breathe it."

Kelly Clifton, a NITC researcher and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year.

She will spend three months in Lisbon, Portugal starting in January 2016, where she will work with faculty at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), part of the University of Lisbon.

Clifton will collaborate there with assistant professor João de Abreu e Silva, a fellow travel behavior researcher whose areas of interest lie in transportation systems and land use patterns, specifically in urban environments.

Clifton’s research into bicycle and pedestrian travel demand modeling and the consumer behavior of active travelers has the potential to be applied in downtown Lisbon, an area currently experiencing a revitalization through tourism.

Her work at the University of Lisbon will include a case study of a recently redesigned street near the university, with a new bike boulevard that has encouraged local merchants...

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If transportation projects need to span long distances or enable millions of trips to be considered of regional significance, what does that mean for active transportation? An Intertwine Alliance forum, hosted Jan. 27 by the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation at Portland State University, raised that among its many discussion questions. The "How We Get There Matters" Regional Active Transportation Forum was sponsored by Metro, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Portland State University's Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation. Speakers from organizations across the region offered their perspectives for participants, presenting ways to think of walking and bicycling as regionally significant. Discussion followed, with participants offering ideas in how to best make the case for elevating active projects to that level.

Jennifer Dill, professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University and director of TREC and the NITC program, has been awarded the 2015 Dale Prize from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

She will spend Wednesday and Thursday at Cal Poly this week, attending a colloquium with students, educators and planning professionals and a formal banquet to receive the award.

The Dale Prize is an annual event organized by the department of urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona. They recognize planning excellence with a pair of prizes each year: a $5,000 award to a scholar and a $5,000 award to a practitioner. Dill is receiving the scholar prize for 2015, and the practitioner prize goes to Fred Dock, director of transportation for the City of Pasadena, who is also a nationally recognized leader in multimodal transportation analysis and walking accessibility.

The department focuses on a different planning theme each year. This year’s theme is Streets for Everyone: Advancing Active Transportation.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) invites new proposals for general research in 2015.

NITC is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s national center for livable communities and one of five U.S. DOT national university transportation centers. The NITC program is a Portland State-led partnership with the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and University of South Florida.

NITC is focused on contributing to transportation projects that support innovations in livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability. We will award at least $1 million to research and technology transfer projects that support NITC’s theme.

What's new in ths RFP

This request for proposals has a special emphasis on economic impacts. Up to $250,000 of these funds will prioritize research projects that study the economic impacts of livable communities.

All projects should range from $30,000 to $150,000 and must focus on research and technology transfer. Technology transfer proposals should support the application of transportation research to practice, including dissemination of research results, continuing education, and training.

Sirisha Kothuri, an active transportation researcher who received her doctorate from PSU in 2014, was announced as the NITC university transportation center student of the year on Saturday, Jan. 10 at TRB.

Kothuri, a former OTREC scholar and NITC dissertation fellow, devoted her doctoral research to optimizing transportation infrastructure for pedestrians. Her dissertation, "Incorporating Pedestrian Considerations into Signal Timing," focuses on ways to minimize the wait time at traffic signals experienced by people on foot.

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable group of road users, so safety is a top priority for many jurisdictions, with less focus being placed on travel time. Kothuri believes that there is a critical need to incorporate pedestrian considerations into signal timing design, in part because unacceptable delay can impact signal compliance and thus impact safety.

The overall objective of her research is to make traffic signals more responsive to pedestrian needs.

Findings from Kothuri’s research can inform practitioners in determining treatments that can benefit pedestrians by considering their needs and reducing delay.

On Tuesday of this week's TRB annual meeting, Kothuri presented a poster titled "Exploring Thresholds for Timing Strategies on a Pedestrian Active Corridor."

She will share more of her pedestrian research in a...

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In a morning workshop on Sunday at TRB's annual meeting, Patrick Singleton of Portland State University was named the top-ranked Eisenhower Fellowship recipient

The session featured innovative research from second- and third-year Eisenhower doctoral fellowship recipients from top universities across the nation.

Singleton was one of four civil and environmental engineering students from PSU to be awarded the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship in 2014.

The paper he presented, "The theory of travel decision-making: A conceptual framework of active travel behavior," integrates theories from economics, geography and psychology to arrive at a unifying framework for understanding and predicting active travel decisions.

It examines the thought processes behind individuals' short-term travel decisions and explains the roles of activities, built environment factors, socio-demographics, perceptions, and habit in influencing those decisions.

Singleton's award marks the second year in a row that a Portland State student has taken the top honor, following Kristina Currans.

Singleton's adviser, Prof. Kelly Clifton, said she's proud of his accomplishment and the continued achievement of Portland State students. "It shows the strength of the program," Clifton said.

Sunday, Jan. 11 is workshop day at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C.

Krista Nordback of TREC presents at the 1:30 p.m. (all times Eastern) workshop "Making Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Programs Count."

Nordback's will offer her portion of the workshop, "Data Sharing: A Count is a Terrible Thing to Waste," with Jeremy Raw of the Federal Highway Administration. The presentation covers the state of the practice for data warehousing of bicycle and pedestrian traffic data. It's in room 150B.

Patrick Singleton of Portland State University presents at a workshop showcasing the work of second- and third-year Eisenhower doctoral fellowship recipients from top universities across the country. Singleton presents "The theory of travel decision-making: A conceptual framework of active travel behavior." The workshop begins at 9 a.m. in Room 202A.

For a full listing of presentations from NITC campus-affiliated researchers each day at TRB, download our guide to TRB...

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