Dec 09, 2013

The NITC program's executive committee has selected a new roster of projects for funding under the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program. The committee chose 10 projects, totaling $900,000, under the NITC theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation to foster livable communities.

The projects are national in scope and reflect priority areas including transit supply and outcomes, and pedestrian and bicyclist behavior. 

Projects selected include:

  • A bicycle and pedestrian miles traveled project for Washington state.
  • A study that measures the effectiveness on social media on advancing public transit.
  • A look into crowdsourcing the collection of data on transportation behavior.
  • A national study of Bus Rapid Transit outcomes.
The 10 projects were chosen from among 25 proposals with a total request of nearly $2.25 million. 

A complete list of projects and principal investigators is below:

  1. National Study of BRT Development Outcomes: Arthur Nelson and Joanna Ganning, University of Utah
  2. Crowdsourcing the Collection of Transportation Behavior Data: Christopher Bone, Ken Kato and Marc Schlossberg,...
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Jun 21, 2013

Susan Petheram, a Ph.D. candidate in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy, & Design program at the University of Utah, has recently been awarded a NITC dissertation fellowship.

NITC fellowships are awarded to fund research on surface transportation topics that fit under the NITC theme of safe, healthy, and sustainable transportation choices to foster livable communities. Petheram's research focuses on the integration of transportation and land use, and on building healthy communities through transit access.

Her dissertation research involves evaluating some of the effects of the light rail system in Salt Lake County. Scarcely more than a decade old, the TRAX light rail system has three lines in service as of 2013, and some of the transportation researchers at the University of Utah are taking advantage of this living laboratory to explore the effects of a light rail system upon the neighborhoods and suburbs that it serves. 

Calvin Tribby, for example, another NTIC fellow from the University of Utah, is observing the new transit opportunities' effect on public health. Petheram's research focuses on a different angle: the light rail's effect on property values.

In particular, she is interested in finding out whether positive...

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Jun 19, 2013

Calvin Tribby, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah, was recently awarded one of NITC's 2013 dissertation fellowships.

Tribby is a doctoral student in the Geography Department at the University of Utah. His research focuses primarily on active transportation.
 
While examining the influences of the built environment on people’s travel mode choices, he also takes a look at the social context and perceptions revolving around active transportation modes.
 
Some of his work is part of a five-year National Institutes of Health grant to study the health outcomes and transportation choices of residents in response to changes in their neighborhood built environment.
 
Many of these changes can have an observable impact on residents’ overall health and lifestyle. Part of the NIH study includes observing the effects of a new light rail line and a “complete street” rehabilitation in Salt Lake City. 
In his research, Tribby finds ways to “summarize walkability” within activity spaces; or to provide an assessment of a neighborhood from the point of view of an active commuter, with transit concerns and...
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Jun 14, 2013

The 2013 NITC dissertation fellowships have been awarded, and Gail Meakins, of the University of Utah, has been selected for a $7,500 NITC fellowship to support her dissertation research.

Meakins's Ph.D. program of study combines her two fields of interest by studying the connection between the built environment and public health.

A former athletic director, Meakins made a major career change in 2008 to go back to school and study Urban Planning.

"My lifelong passion for, and interest in, physical activity and sport began at a very early age," she said. Always a competitive swimmer and runner, she became intrigued with city design over time.

After earning her Bachelor's and Master's of Arts in Physical Education from the University of California, Berkeley in the mid-1970's, Meakins worked for over 20 years in physical education and health at the middle school, high school, and collegiate level.

"Throughout the years I have had the opportunity to travel extensively, and developed a strong interest in both urban design and architecture," Meakins said. In the course of her travels, she couldn't help but notice wide differences between neighborhoods, in terms of the availability of active travel modes.

Her research focuses on the...

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Jul 12, 2012

OTREC has selected its first roster of projects under the new National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program. The program’s executive committee chose 19 projects, totaling $1.97 million, under the NITC theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation to foster livable communities.

The projects have national implications and reflect priority areas including public health, equity and transit. True to the program’s multidisciplinary nature, projects extend beyond transportation engineering and planning to include sociology, chemistry, economics and more—10 disciplines in all.

While Portland State University, the University of Oregon and the Oregon Institute of Technology...

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Apr 23, 2012

Staff from OTREC at Portland State University toured three partner campuses to prepare for the first round of projects under the National Institute for Transportation and Communities program, or NITC. Portland State, the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology and the University of Utah teamed up for the program, funded with a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The University of Utah was the first to receive a visit, March 19-20, in Salt Lake City. There, NITC executive committee member Keith Bartholomew hosted tours and meetings. Staff met with student representatives from various disciplines and with potential researchers from across campus before meeting potential community partners at the Utah Transit Authority offices. OTREC finance and communications staff members met with their University of Utah counterparts.

The meetings marked the first connection for much of the Utah faculty and OTREC staff. While the University of Oregon and Oregon Tech were already partners under the original OTREC grant, the NITC program marks Portland State and Utah’s first formal collaboration under the federal University Transportation Centers program.

On April 9, staff met with current and potential transportation researchers at the University of Oregon along with...

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Jan 12, 2012

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Portland State University $3.5 million for research and education on sustainable transportation topics, the department announced today. The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC), the university transportation center based at PSU, will administer the grant.

OTREC, a partnership between PSU, the University of Oregon and the Oregon Institute of Technology, will join with the University of Utah to carry out the grant. This award reaffirms OTREC’s evolution into one of the nation’s leading transportation livability research centers and provides the resources to address national problems strategically.

Research and educational programs under the grant will focus on the following topics:

  • Improving health and safety for all users
  • Increasing the efficiency and understanding of cycling, walking and transit
  • Making the best use of data, performance measures and analytical tools
  • Integrating multimodal transportation with land use
  • Taking long-term action on transportation emissions and climate change.

PSU was one of 63 applicants for 22 grants. The grant competition challenged university transportation center leaders to demonstrate the ability and experience to produce the country’s best transportation research and educational programs. “In five years, OTREC has advanced the state of research on topics such as the connections between transportation...

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