Better Block PDX celebrates TREC adopting the PSU Project Pathway


Authored by Malia Knapp-Rossi, Project Manager Intern at Better Block PDX and Master of Urban and Regional Planning Student at Portland State University.

Learn more about the Better Block PSU pathway program here.

Better Block PDX, a public spaces advocacy nonprofit, has spent the last four years working with Portland State University (PSU) students to develop design and implementation plans for community-driven transportation projects. Read about Better Block project milestones. In collaboration with PSU faculty, PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS), graduate-level urban planning and engineering students, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation, and community organizations—Better Block PDX created the annual PSU Project Pathway program.

This Pathway program empowers PSU students and the greater Portland community to collaborate on low cost, transportation projects to serve neighborhood needs. These D.I.Y urbanism projects are fully integrated into the academic curriculum. The next generation of engineers and planners develop detailed traffic plans, public participation events, and transportation performance measures in order to create a safe and effective implementation path. The Pathway program provides a practicum experience for PSU students, increases capacity for community organizations, and has been successful at influencing policy and leading to permanent changes in Portland’s streetscape—most notably the Better Naito project. A total of fifteen projects have been shepherded through the Pathway since 2015, including four that will be built in the first phase of the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan that kicked off this past weekend.

For the past two years, this collaboration and the Better Block PDX intern has been supported by ISS at PSU. Under the wing of the sustainability-focused center, the Pathway matured into a formal program with greater capacity to support more projects, students, and classes. Seeking to be more fully integrated with transportation faculty, students, and researchers at PSU, Better Block PDX will be transitioning to a new champion organization.

PSU’s Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) is adopting the program as Better Block PSU and will provide program management. Founded in 2006, the nationally-funded, interdisciplinary research center seeks to elevate “collaborative research and education that provide a unique lens on transportation insight for vibrant communities.” The PSU Project Pathway curriculum and goals align closely with center’s mission. This partnership will help institutionalize, streamline, and increase the capacity of the program.

To learn more about Better Block PDX and the new TREC partnership, join us tonight (Thurs, May 23rd) at Better Block PDX’s Celebration event at Bike Farm in NE Portland.

The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and young professionals through education.

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