Traffic merges onto Interstate 84 in Portland. A new federal grant will support an effort to improve travel through the I-84 corridor, including adjacent roads, transit lines and bikeways.

Effort to manage traffic in Interstate 84 corridor gets federal boost

posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 9:15am

TREC will take part in a regional effort to improve travel on all modes through the Interstate 84 corridor. The project received word of nearly $200,000 in support from the Federal Highway Administration.

The FHWA grant, announced Feb. 24, will go toward a study to see how best to manage traffic through a 45-square-mile corridor, using advanced information technologies and real-time travel information. The study aims to help people make better choices about when and where they travel and how they get there.

Metro will lead the effort, which also includes the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet, Multnomah County and the cities of Portland and Gresham. Portland State will participate on the project management team and in a technical advisory role, with the Portal multimodal data archive serving as a key tool for understanding and visualizing data throughout the corridor, including the freeway, arterials, transit lines and bikeways.

The grant was one of 13 awarded from among more than 30 proposals for FHWA’s Integrated Corridor Management grant program. The total project cost is $239,600.

The project team will finish its recommendations by spring of 2016. More information is available through an...

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Patrick Singleton, a Ph.D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University, has been selected for a fellowship to attend the 2015 Eno Leadership Development Conference this spring, where he will be able to meet and talk with some of the nation’s top transportation policymakers.

The Eno fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for transportation students. Only one student from each university transportation program can be nominated by their school, and of those nominated, only 20 fellows nationwide are chosen each year. Those selected as Eno Fellows are invited to come to Washington, D.C., all expenses paid, to meet with federal officials, nonprofit and business organization leaders.

From May 31 to June 4, Singleton will attend a series of meetings, workshops and tours designed to be an introduction to the transportation policy making landscape.

“It’s very exciting. One thing that I’m looking forward to most is the opportunity to have a two-way dialogue, with the other student participants and also with the transportation industry leaders. I’d like to have a dialogue with them, as a grad student and aspiring academic, about how the research I’ve been working on can help inform important transportation policy questions and to address some of our current transportation challenges,” Singleton said.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) invites proposals for Spring 2015 Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships.

Who can apply?

NITC dissertation fellowships are open to students currently enrolled in a transportation-related doctoral program at Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), University of South Florida (USF) or the University of Utah (UU).

To be eligible, the student must be a U.S. Citizen and must have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree prior to the application deadline of May 1, 2015.

Interested students should download the Request for Proposals and Application Form or visit the NITC For Researchers page for more information on submitting proposals.

All research proposals must be consistent with the NITC theme of livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability. A more detailed explanation of the theme can be found in the Request for Proposals and Application Form.

On Monday, February 23, TREC and the Oregon Department of Transportation conducted controlled tests on various methods for counting cyclists.

Krista Nordback, a TREC research associate specializing in bicycle and pedestrian counting and safety, coordinated the event with ODOT staff in Salem, Oregon.

The testing was part of an ongoing study in which TREC and ODOT are partnering up to determine the most efficient and effective way for Oregon to collect non-motorized counts.

“Counting bicycles and pedestrians is something that ODOT wants to be doing,” Nordback said. “The purpose of this project is to find ways to do that using the equipment they already have or are planning to purchase anyway.”

A pilot project last year, headed by TREC researcher Miguel Figliozzi, tested the accuracy of data collection using signal infrastructure already in place. Researchers analyzed video footage of intersections and compared the number of active travelers with the numbers produced by the counters.

Prof. Kelly Clifton had planned for students in her “Theories And Methods Of Travel Behavior” course to give final presentations March 11. But the course had just wrapped up a unit on public policy.

Clifton, a TREC researcher, instead offered a rare opportunity: the class spent its final course meeting grilling U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Oregon’s senior representative and a major player in transportation policy.

DeFazio used the session to field questions about his work on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and to get ideas for solving problems before the committee from some of the country’s most respected transportation students.

Topics included alternatives to the gasoline tax, health, performance measures and behavior modification. Around 25 students attended, including some from outside the travel behavior course.

As the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeFazio looks for ways to deal with deteriorating infrastructure. Faced with questions on the intersections between transportation and disciplines such as health and education, DeFazio acknowledged how much struggles in one area affect others.

“There’s a whole host of things we’re not investing in,” DeFazio said. If properly funded, he said, programs such as Safe Routes to School can improve all the disciplines they touch.

To be published later this spring is some of the first bicycle-focused research into shared space, a controversial urban design approach pioneered in the Netherlands in the 1990s.

Allison Duncan, a PhD candidate in urban studies & planning at Portland State University, earned a NITC dissertation fellowship in 2014 and used the research grant to study shared space intersections in the United Kingdom.

Shared space designs have recently been adopted at a handful of sites in the UK and others scattered across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They are characterized by a lack of physical guidelines such as curbs, road surface markings and traffic signs to define who has the right-of-way.

The idea is for pedestrians, cars and bicycles to mingle in a common zone and use eye contact and natural communication to make sure no one gets hurt.

“Cyclists and pedestrians are supposed to be able to treat it more like a plaza and just cross where they want to, and drivers are supposed to yield,” Duncan said.

As a street design scheme, shared space isn’t exactly new. It’s more or less the way all streets were designed until the advent of cars, and is still the norm in many Asian countries where cars share the roads with a crowd of two- and three-wheeled...

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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.

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 to...

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