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Noted PSU professor picked for federal transportation research post

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 5th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Robert Bertini

Portland State University professor Robert Bertini has been selected by the Obama administration to be the deputy administrator of the federal Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

According to The Oregonian, Bertini starts his new job on August 17th. At PSU he was a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the director of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC).

At PSU, Bertini was instrumental in steering funding to help create the Institute of Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, a research facility devoted to studying bike and pedestrian travel and was also the head of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory.

"Rob is part of a cadre at PSU that are re-thinking urban planning and starting to evolve our curriculum and research toward a less auto-centric approach to community planning and design."
-- Mia Birk, Alta Planning and Design and former bike coordinator for the City of Portland

Bertini also spearheaded a popular transportation lecture and seminar series at PSU that has featured the profession's brightest thinkers from around the world.

Mia Birk, principal with urban planning firm Alta Planning + Design, told BikePortland that Bertini has been a leader in integrating bicycling into engineering research and curriculum at PSU and that his expertise will be missed. "Rob is part of a cadre at PSU that are re-thinking urban planning and starting to evolve our curriculum and research toward a less auto-centric approach to community planning and design."

Birk said Bertini supported many important research projects, including an evaluation study of Portland's green bike boxes in partnership with the City's Bureau of Transportation.

City of Portland traffic engineer Rob Burchfield says Bertini is a dynamic personality who helped PBOT create partnerships with PSU's transportation students and programs. "Rob is very supportive of the types of things, in terms of transportation, we're doing here in Portland." Burchfield feels Bertini's appointment is a good sign from Obama administration. "For me, it says a lot that they selected some like Rob for this leadership position."

Elana Schor at Streetsblog DC concurs:

Bertini's hiring is an uber-wonky personnel move, to be sure. But it also signals the ascent of a reason-based approach to transportation policy, with a focus on increasing efficiency by helping communities shift a greater share of trips onto transit.

The RITA is a division within the Department of Transportation in charge of "advancing the deployment of cross-cutting technologies to improve our nation's transportation system." With any luck, Bertini's work will have as much influence on America as he's had on Oregon and the Portland region.

Portland's loss is Obama's -- and America's -- gain.

UPDATE: PSU's Jennifer Dill, known for her bike research, will replace Bertini as Director of the OTREC.

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Comments
  • Mike August 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I hear his other claim to fame is that he's the landlord of the founders of the Easy Riders group.

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  • Laura August 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Dang! That's a big loss for PSU, but still...Congratulations, Rob!!!

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