NITC program awards funding for new round of research, education projects

Posted on July 8, 2014

NITC program awards funding for new round of research, education projects
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 with a total request of over $2 million. 
A complete list of projects and principal investigators is below:

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Tags: bicycle infrastructure, complete streets, cycle tracks, e-bikes, green lanes, light rail, national institute for transportation and communities, nitc, otrec, traffic-related pollution, transit, transit equity, transportation safety, university of utah, utah transit authority, walking

Safety thread runs through sixth Oregon Transportation Summit

Posted on July 8, 2014

Safety thread runs through sixth Oregon Transportation Summit

What is the highest number of deaths and serious injuries we should accept from our transportation system? For transportation agencies who have long sought to reduce traffic fatalities, a movement to eliminate them completely has gained currency.

This year’s Oregon Transportation Summit brings a strong safety theme, including plenary session and morning and afternoon workshops. Registration for the summit officially opens today.

Register or learn more about the summit, which takes place Monday, Sept. 15.

The 2014 Oregon Transportation Summit opens with a plenary session titled “Envisioning Vision Zero.” Vision Zero is the approach, initiated in Sweden, to not accept deaths or serious injuries as a tradeoff for other goals of the road network. In the United States, a national effort called Toward Zero Deaths grew out of these principles.   

Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths has been a leader among state programs, working with partners across jurisdictions and service categories across the state to address roadway deaths and injuries. Sue Groth oversees this effort as the state traffic engineer and director of the Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

OTREC is pleased to have Groth deliver the summit’s plenary address. Groth will give context on Toward Zero Deaths and describe how this philosophy now guides her department. Alongside Minnesota, Oregon has also identified zero transportation deaths as a core objective in its strategic highway safety plan. The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Safety Division Administrator Troy Costales will follow Groth’s presentation with a response focused on Oregon’s efforts.

Biographies for Groth, Costales and other speakers are at the OTS Speaker Biographies Page.

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Tags: jarrett walker, leah treat, minnesota department of transportation, oregon transportation summit, safety, sue groth, toward zero deaths, troy costales, vision zero

Light rail reduces auto traffic, cuts emissions, study finds

Posted on July 3, 2014

Light rail reduces auto traffic, cuts emissions, study finds

For the first time, researchers have shown that installing light rail on an existing travel corridor not only gets people out of their cars, but reduces congestion and air pollution.

In the study, planners at the University of Utah measured impacts of a new light rail line in Salt Lake City (University Line) on an existing major thoroughfare (400/500 South). Their analysis showed that traffic near the University has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, even as the number of students, faculty and staff at the university has increased, and the commercial district along the corridor has expanded.

"This is the first study to document important effects of light rail transit on traffic volumes,” said Reid Ewing, professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah and lead author on the study. “Since the University TRAX line opened, there has been increased development in the 400/500 South travel corridor, yet traffic on the street has actually declined. Our calculations show that without the University TRAX line, there would be at least 7,300 more cars per day on 400/500 South, and possibly as many as 21,700 additional cars. The line avoids gridlock, as well as saves an additional 13 tons of toxic air pollutants. This is important knowledge for shaping future transportation policies.”

Andrew Gruber, executive director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, which has been responsible for coordinating transportation planning in the Salt Lake and Ogden areas since 1973 said, “This study further demonstrates the value of public transportation in helping people reach their destinations, reduce traffic and spur economic development. The findings are significant for local governments across our region as they consider the future of transit in their community.”

The report—which validates assumptions widely used in travel demand models used in community planning—was issued recently by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, and has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Public Transportation later this year. The report is available for download at

Ewing worked with Guang Tian, a doctoral student in city and metropolitan planning, and Allison Spain, academic program manager at the University of Utah.

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Tags: development, emissions, guang tian, light-rail transit, nitc, reid ewing, traffic, traffic congestion, transit, university of utah, utah department of transportation, utah transit authority

Portland State University students enhance Tigard’s walkability

Posted on June 30, 2014

Portland State University students enhance Tigard’s walkability

Several notable transportation projects have come out of Portland State University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program this spring.


Each year, graduating students finish up their two-year program of study by forming into groups and carrying out a professional project. Clients work with Portland State University to identify planning needs that would be a good fit for the MURP program, and students choose projects based on their interests.


The Paradigm Planning team made news with their re-imagining of the Salem-Keizer transit system, and InSite Planning Group with their Beaverton corridor study.


The city of Tigard engaged StepUP Studio, another MURP team, to craft a pedestrian plan.

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Tags: active transportation, livability, portland state university, research, walking

OTREC researchers will present on bike/ped counts at traffic data conference

Posted on June 26, 2014

OTREC researchers will present on bike/ped counts at traffic data conference

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 Bryan Blanc in their ODOT report, Developing a Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Collection System in Oregon.

The conference, an international venue for sharing experiences on effectively monitoring traffic flow, will be held at Swissôtel in Chicago, Illinois.

Tags: active transportation, bicycle, bicycle infrastructure, otrec, research, transportation research board, walking

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