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Portland State University has earned a reputation for innovative transportation programs that span multiple disciplines, all in service of livable communities. That expertise is now available in a single place through the newly renamed TREC, Portland State’s transportation research and education center.  

Growing out of OTREC, TREC is the steward of Portland State’s participation in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers program. The program has awarded Portland State more than $30 million since 2006, with a nonfederal match requirement amplifying the effect of the federal investment and touching more community partners. 

The new website, trec.pdx.edu, lets visitors search for transportation research and researchers across campus by topic or browse by research area. 

With leadership from Rep. Peter DeFazio, OTREC was founded in 2006 as a four-campus consortium and expanded into a broader transportation center. The original OTREC grant ran until 2014, funding 237 research, education and technology transfer projects. In addition to carrying on this legacy, TREC also:

  • Builds on the Center for Transportation Studies, established in 1966. The longstanding ...
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An OTREC report from Oregon State University looked at various center median and bicycle lane configurations, and how they affect traffic at road access points.

In the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) publication A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, commonly known as the Green Book, access points include the intersections of public roads as well as driveway locations. In the Green Book, most of the supporting research for the spacing of driveways is based on standard highway design procedures. They include simple human factors and geometric principles, and have not been thoroughly evaluated based on a variety of road cross section configurations.

Principal investigator Karen Dixon of Oregon State University sought to close this research gap by evaluating the influences of select cross-sectional-related design elements, specifically median configurations and bicycle lanes, on driveways.

Dixon's research team evaluated eight physical sites and four simulated scenarios with different driveway spacing and roadway cross section designs. The primary research goal...

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The executive committee of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program has selected a third round of research, education, and technology transfer projects for funding. This grant is part of the University Transportation Center (UTC) program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Research and Technology, and is a partnership between Portland State University, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah. The committee chose eight projects, totaling $800,000, under the NITC theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation to foster livable communities. 
 
The projects are national in scope and support innovations in priority areas including public transit and active transportation. 
 
Projects selected include:
  • An analysis of the effects of commuter rail on population deconcentration.
  • A look into prioritizing pedestrians at signalized intersections.
  • A study of cyclist-vehicle interaction.
  • An evaluation of an eco-driving intervention.
The eight projects were chosen from among 20 proposals...
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A new OTREC report explores an innovative technique for making household travel data more widely available without compromising individual privacy.
 
Public agencies spend vast amounts of money collecting information in household travel surveys.
 
In the report, Wider Dissemination of Household Travel Survey Data Using Geographical Perturbation Methods, lead investigator Kelly Clifton of Portland State University examines ways to make that information more accessible by planners and other professionals.
 
Survey respondents are guaranteed anonymity in exchange for their participation. In addition to asking which modes individuals use to get around, surveys learn where they live, where they work, their household sizes and demographic information.
Detailed geospatial referencing of the home, work and other travel destinations is common practice.
Such data can be of enormous use to planning professionals, but its dissemination must be balanced with the need to keep locations confidential.
 
To protect this confidentiality, data are often aggregated to a geographic level such as census tracts or transportation analysis zones (TAZs) before being publicly shared.
This...
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OTREC researchers Krista Nordback and Sirisha Kothuri will present research at the North American Travel Monitoring Exposition and Conference (NATMEC) from June 29 to July 2, 2014.

The conference, organized by the Transportation Research Board, provides an opportunity for traffic monitoring professionals to share information about collecting and using traffic data.

Nordback will talk about what professionals can do to maintain bicycle count programs at the state level. She will give a presentation on the feasibility of using existing traffic signals to collect bicycle counts, and on what to do with that data once it is gathered.

Kothuri will present strategies for counting pedestrians using existing resources such as signal controllers and software already installed at intersections.

Nordback and Kothuri will draw from their own research as well as from the work of Miguel Figliozzi, Chris Monsere, Pam Johnson and...

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Historically, large-scale transportation infrastructure projects have had devastating outcomes in communities of color. With twentieth-century urban renewal efforts often came the displacement of underprivileged communities, the loss of low-income neighborhoods and their replacement with affluent housing and freeways.

According to new OTREC research from the University of Oregon, transit-oriented development, or TOD, can offer a different trajectory. Rather than displacing residents, TOD has the potential to improve neighborhoods for the benefit of those who live there.

OTREC researcher Gerardo Sandoval grew up near MacArthur park, one of the two sites studied, and has witnessed firsthand the neighborhood’s dramatic change. “I think the coolest thing about MacArthur Park is that now it’s considered a national model for TOD. When I was growing up there … nobody saw it like that. It was thought of more as a low-income area,” Sandoval said.

The project examined two California neighborhoods: MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles, and Fruitvale, in Oakland. In both neighborhoods, the majority of residents are recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America, many of whom have significantly lower incomes and rely heavily on public transportation.

In the last few decades, both sites have seen TOD coincide with neighborhood revitalization, and...

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OTREC and the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) are proud to announce the winners of the 2014 IBPI scholarships.

Portland State University students Liz Kaster, Bryan Blanc, and Gena Gastaldi have each been awarded one of three scholarship opportunities from IBPI, made possible through the generous donations of Rex Burkholder and Lydia Rich; Alta Planning + Design, and DKS.

The Rex Burkholder and Lydia Rich scholarship supports a graduate student who intends to pursue a career related to bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Liz Kaster, a second-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student, was awarded the Alta Planning & Design scholarship through IBPI last year, and this year she has been selected for the Burkholder/Rich scholarship.

As a recipient of the Burkholder/Rich scholarship, Kaster will work with a faculty member to develop and carry out a short-term project on a topic that can immediately help practitioners plan for more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly communities.

This year’s winner of the Alta Planning + Design scholarship is Gena Gastaldi, a MURP student with a focus on active transportation and urban design. The Alta Scholarship supports a graduate student who is highly motivated...

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With the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs) as an environmentally friendly alternative to the internal combustion engine, OTREC researcher Robert Bass decided to investigate some of the uncharted effects of their growing prevalence.

Bass is interested in measuring and understanding the impacts that electric vehicle charging stations have on their cities’ power distribution systems.

Electric Avenue, located on the Portland State University campus where Bass is an associate professor, is the perfect research opportunity: a row of EV charging stations along Southwest Montgomery Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in downtown Portland, Ore.

Launched in August 2011 as a joint project by Portland General Electric, PSU and the City of Portland, Electric Avenue is intended as a research platform for understanding the impact EVs have within the larger context of the city.

Nonlinear loads such as EV chargers can introduce power quality issues to a city’s electricity distribution system. Bass, with PSU undergraduate student Nicole Zimmerman, set out to measure the power quality effects of EV chargers along Electric Avenue.

Power quality manifests in several ways; for this study, the researchers focused on...

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OTREC research from Portland State University has developed a new method of travel demand modeling for pedestrian trips.

Transportation professionals use travel demand modeling to forecast how many people will be using a given portion of the transportation infrastructure. This is typically done using a four-step process, the first step of which relies upon a basic unit known as a transportation analysis zone, or TAZ.

A TAZ is a relatively coarse unit of space that can vary in size depending on planners’ needs; typically it encompasses somewhere around 3,000 residents.

Planners started using TAZs in the 1950s, on mainframe computers with limited capabilities, for guidance in making highway investment decisions. As transportation modeling practice has evolved, computers are capable of processing more data and models are being increasingly relied upon to answer more complex questions. 

Despite growing investment in infrastructure that supports active forms of travel, existing modeling tools often poorly represent the nuances of the pedestrian environment. The project’s principal investigator, Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, explores ways to improve upon the modeling tools currently in existence.

When considering pedestrian travel, the current practice is usually to...

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OTREC researchers and students from the Oregon Institute of Technology have teamed up with Green Lite Motors to test a next-generation hybrid car.

Green Lite Motors, a clean-tech start-up company based in Portland, Ore., has developed a small, three-wheeled, gas-electric hybrid vehicle based on the platform of a Suzuki Burgman scooter.

The vehicle is classed as a motorcycle, and has all the advantages of the smaller vehicle — it doesn’t take up a whole parking space, and it gives off fewer emissions — but it also has an advanced roll-cage design, giving it the safety and comfort of a standard passenger car. It has two wheels in the front, one in the back, and mileage possibilities greater than 100 miles per gallon.

The target market areas for this two-passenger vehicle are urban commute zones, where large numbers of people travel daily from suburban homes to city-based professions. 

The tiny hybrid car could change the commuting experience, minimizing gas expenditure and cutting down the time people spend looking for parking.

Green Lite has developed two prototypes.

The...

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