Feb 14, 2012

Last week in Portland, family, friends, and colleagues gathered to remember one of Oregon’s most stalwart and effective public servants, Gail Achterman. Gail committed her life to furthering environmental and transportation issues to improve the quality of life in Oregon. Her commitment to improving and connecting transportation with land use and environmental policy was the reason she received the 2011 OTREC DeFazio Transportation Hall of Fame Award.

A fourth-generation Oregonian, Gail distinguished herself in law and natural-resource issues (as the Director of the Institute of Natural Resources at OSU) even before her involvement in transportation. As Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, Gail provided policy guidance to move the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) toward a sustainable future. She has been instrumental in expanding the focus of ODOT beyond highways to include a complete multi-modal transport system.

Recognizing the importance of working smarter, not harder, Gail championed an aggressive program to advance Oregon’s sophisticated integrated models for transportation, land use and the economy. The program boosted efforts such as the GreenSTEP model to address greenhouse gas emission reductions, research into least-cost planning concepts for the...

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Sep 19, 2011

The third annual Oregon Transportation Summit drew 275 people to Portland State University for what has become a leading regional venue to connect transportation professionals with each other and with academic researchers. Workshops and plenary sessions spread some of the best ideas in transportation, while a poster session shared the latest research from OTREC faculty and students.

The OTREC awards honored leaders in their field. In an emotional presentation, Chris Achterman accepted the Peter DeFazio Transportation Hall of Fame award on behalf of his sister, Gail Achterman, who recently stepped down as chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission and is undergoing chemotherapy.

Achterman brought a different perspective to the commission, OTREC Director Jennifer Dill said in presenting the award. “Gail’s direction helped the Oregon Department of Transportation redefine itself, emphasizing active and multimodal transportation,” Dill said. “With her diverse background and open mind, she has welcomed the best ideas from multiple disciplines, recognizing their implication for transportation.”

In prepared remarks, Achterman returned the praise. “The Summit is only one of the Oregon...

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Mar 23, 2011

In a tent in a parking lot under a freeway bridge, Ray LaHood saw the future of the country’s transportation network Tuesday. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation spoke to reporters, dignitaries and construction workers in the muddy work zone of Southwest Moody Avenue.

Last year, the project to rebuild Moody Avenue received a $23.2 million grant from the federal stimulus package. The project will double the streetcar tracks and add a cycle track and sidewalks. It will also ease connections to a new transit bridge that will carry the Portland-Milwaukie light rail line, the eastside streetcar loop, cyclists and pedestrians.

LaHood, joined by the area's congressional delegation, city and state officials, stressed the jobs the project is creating and the boost for the mix of transportation modes it represents. The project will also reduce congestion, LaHood said, by making transit attractive to current and future residents and employees.

Before construction started along Moody, automobile congestion was virtually nonexistent. However, it’s a heavily trafficked bicycle route connecting Portland’s cycle-friendly downtown bridges with its largest employer, Oregon Health and Science University.

By allowing choices of light-rail train, streetcar, bicycle and shoe leather, the project stands to boost those forms of transportation. If commuters leave their cars at home, that represents a reduction in congestion elsewhere. Of course, the project will also add...

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