Jai Daniels is a first-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student at Portland State University, currently working with PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) as a Graduate Research Assistant under faculty advisor John MacArthur. She is interested in urban livability, bicycle and pedestrian planning, transit planning, and the intersection between urban planning and the environment.

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Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, often referred to as 'Mayberry.' Living near the Blue Ridge Parkway and not having much to do, apart from spending time outside, largely influenced both my passion for environmental conservation and my desire to travel. This in turn influenced what I chose to study. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a degree in environmental studies and minor in city and regional planning. Now, I live in Portland and am in my first year of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Portland State University. Outside of school, I enjoy listening to podcasts, watching movies, taking film pictures, and hiking.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

As an undergraduate student, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, which sparked my...

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Bikes near transit
Photo by Cait McCusker
Chris Cherry and Candace Brakewood, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
John MacArthur, Portland State University

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has changed the way most of the world moves through daily life, with many businesses having to temporarily close and students of all levels forced to transition to online courses.

Even so, grocery stores, medical facilities, and takeout restaurants remain open, requiring workers to commute to and from work. In metro areas, that can often mean taking some form of transit, potentially exposing workers in these vital areas to the disease. 

In a collaborative project between University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Portland State University, researchers Chris Cherry (UT), Candace Brakewood (UT) and John MacArthur (PSU) are studying the impacts of people’s travel decisions on transit, shared bikes and e-scooters, and it comes with backing from a National Science Foundation RAPID Award

These awards are granted for research with "a severe...

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SAFE Planning Group at graduation ceremony

Photo of CUPA 2019 Graduation Ceremony by Nina Johnson

As the spring term comes to a close and many Portland State University students celebrate graduation, we'd like to take a moment to highlight two excellent transportation-focused projects from this year's Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) graduates of the College of Urban and Public Affairs. Last year's graduating masters students worked on equitable travel to Marquam Hill, active transportation in North PDX, car-free access to the outdoors and an examination of skateboarding for transportation.

This year, two student groups took on projects related to walking and bicycling.

ReadyStreets: Human Powered Mobility in the Post-earthquake Recovery Period

SAFE (Supporting Access for Everyone) Planning Group: Kerry AszklarJaye Cromwell, Bryan Nguyen, Joey PosadaSabina Roan, and ...

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Principal Investigator: John MacArthur, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing related publications on the Project Overview page.

Quickly regaining use of a city's transportation system after a major disaster is critical to relief efforts. To help cities recover from emergency situations, TREC is working to develop a transportation recovery plan that includes transit, travel demand management (TDM), social media, and intelligent technologies.

The plan is supported by a research grant awarded to Portland State University by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), as part of its Innovative Safety, Resiliency, and All Hazards Emergency...

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An OTREC research project recently took a look at gusset plate connections, the riveted plates of sheet metal that hold steel truss bridges together.

These connective plates have come to the attention of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), because in 2007 the collapse of the Interstate-35W Bridge in Minneapolis was the result of a failed gusset plate.

After the collapse, which killed 13 people and injured 145, the FHWA issued a set of guidelines for load rating — or determining the weight-bearing capacity — of gusset plates.

Historically, only bridge truss members were considered for load rating during safety inspections. Gusset plates were thought to be reliable based on conservative assumptions employed during their design.

For more details, visit the project page.

Roughly 20,000 steel bridges in the United States are classified as non-load-path-redundant, or fracture critical, bridges. This means that the failure of a single truss member or connection could lead to collapse.

The problem, says the project's lead investigator Christopher Higgins, happens when a plate goes out of plane. It’s supposed to be perfectly flat, but with too much load put on it, it can develop a bifurcation and go from stable to unstable.

“It’s like...

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During Hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Katrina in 2005, at least 11 highway and railroad bridges along the U.S. Gulf Coast were damaged. When the water rose during the storms, wave forces slammed into the bridges’ supporting substructures, and when it rose high enough, the water’s buoyancy had enough power to lift off sections of a bridge’s superstructure and lay them aside like giant Legos.

To build bridges that can withstand the force of hurricane waves, engineers must be able to estimate the effects those waves will have on bridge structures. An OTREC project led by Oregon State University professor Daniel Cox examined the effects of wave loading on highway bridge superstructures.

Cox and co-investigator Solomon C. Yim, also of Oregon State University, conducted experiments in the Large Wave Flume at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at Oregon State University. They used a 1:5 scale, reinforced concrete model of a section of the Interstate 10 Bridge over Escambia Bay, Fla, which failed during Hurricane Ivan.

To see more details about the project, “Hurricane Wave Forces on Highway Bridge Superstructure,” click here, or download the final report.

The problem addressed by this...

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The Oregon Department of Transportation, like DOTs in most other states, has an ongoing struggle to maintain public highways against earth movements such as erosion, earthquakes and landslides. An earthquake or landslide can close down a road for days, while highway workers fight to keep supply lines open and repair the damage.

In Oregon, particularly along the coastal roads, these natural processes are a constant threat to transportation infrastructure. The damage caused by gradual erosion is typically not detectable until there is a landslide or other disaster, costing the state considerable time and money to repair. New technology has the potential to change this. Many landslides, in fact, show some form of movement prior to catastrophic failure. A team of researchers, led by Michael J. Olsen of Oregon State University and sponsored by a research grant from OTREC, set out to improve upon the methods that ODOT uses to detect and prevent structural threats. 

Olsen details his findings in an OTREC final report. Click here for more on the project, or download the final report.

The research centers on a three-dimensional remote sensing technology known as LiDAR. Short...

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Note: This article is the first in a series on OTREC reports that examining the intersection of climate change and transportation. We’ll continue with articles on other topics, including a regionwide impact assessment of climate change effects on transportation and a narrow focus on the effects on public transit.

Of all effects of the climate on transportation, the most costly results from flooding in cities. Flooding disrupts urban life, causing expensive repairs, delays and hazards to address. In the Pacific Northwest, these effects are projected to worsen as human-caused global warming brings wetter weather and higher water tables.

Despite these projections, little research had focused on the effects of increased flooding on the transportation system and how those effects could be lessened. OTREC opened the door to this area of research with a project called Future Flooding Impacts on Transportation Infrastructure and Traffic Patterns Resulting from Climate Change. The final report is available to download here.

The project brought together scholars from Portland State University in the disciplines of geography, civil and environmental engineering, and urban studies and planning with officials from regional government Metro. The researchers also included regional stakeholders...

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It’s not shocking that bridges built without thought to earthquakes wouldn’t make it through a big quake unharmed. More surprising, however, is how much damage even a relatively small earthquake would cause to Oregon’s bridges.

In an exhaustive OTREC project, researcher Peter Dusicka looked at the most common bridge types in the Oregon highway system. Those bridges weren’t just fragile, he found—they were even more fragile than other researchers and technical guidelines had suggested.

Dusicka published his preliminary findings in a draft report last year. The final report, “Bridge Damage Models for Seismic Risk Assessment of Oregon Highway Network,” is out now. Click here to download.

Most Oregon highway bridges were built before the 1980s, when designers started to consider seismic activity. Dusicka set out to see what would happen to the most common bridge type, continuous concrete multi-beam or girder, during quakes of varying degrees.

To find that out, he had to first know how the ground in the Pacific Northwest moves during and earthquake and second, model how the bridge type would react to these motions. Historical and geological evidence show a catastrophic earthquake will occur sooner or later in the region, Dusicka has said, as the Cascadia subduction zone stores up energy that will be released at some point. (...

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A major seismic event is predicted to hit the Oregon Coast any year now, which has transportation planning experts asking, “Is Oregon prepared?”

OTREC seismic expert and Portland State University Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Peter Dusicka recently spoke at a May 13 symposium titled, Next Big Earthquake In Oregon: Are We Ready? Along with five other PSU professors, the Maseeh College-sponsored symposium addressed the state’s preparedness in terms of emergency response and infrastructure. Dusicka’s talk focused on the ability of Oregon’s bridges to perform in a major earthquake.

“We depend on our network of bridges for anything from immediate emergency response to transportation of goods and services,” Dusicka said. “There is no doubt that there is an inventory (of bridges) within Oregon of a certain vintage where we know there will be issues.”

The ability of a bridge to withstand a seismic event can depend on the type of bridge, when it was constructed and how it’s supported in terms of a foundation, Dusicka said. OTREC recently worked with ODOT to examine several hundred bridges in Oregon for seismic deficiency. The most telling trait, Dusicka said, is age.

“Over time, we’ve learned the ways we’ve designed and built bridges are not the best for resisting earthquakes,” Dusicka said. “The challenge with remediation today is, do we have the knowledge to do this effectively, and if we do, do we have the funds to execute...

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