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Portlanders in D.C. for major transportation research conference

Posted by on January 25th, 2011 at 11:19 am

Head of traffic signals for
PBOT, Peter Koonce, is
among the attendees.

Looking to share knowledge on the latest and greatest innovations in transportation research, Portland has a very strong presence in Washington D.C. this week at the 90th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

Portland is home to many of the nation’s top minds when it comes to innovative research about how we get around. Back in 2009, Portland State’s Robert Bertini was picked to serve as deputy administrator of the federal Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

TRB attendees took a bike tour
of D.C.’s new cycle track yesterday.
(Photo: DDOT)

According to Justin Carinci, the communications director for the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) housed at Portland State University, PSU alone has sent dozens of students and faculty to the conference. All told, 17 students and 13 faculty researchers are either presenting their work, moderating discussions, or serving on panels at TRB.

Peter Koonce, head of traffic signals for the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is also at the conference. He told us he’s there to, “advocate for research that is consistent with our community’s policies.” More specifically, he reports that, “I am learning about techniques for assessing pedestrians at signals. I’ve seen some fascinating research on effects of pedestrian scramble signals from Purdue.”

I asked Carinci to round up a few other folks and find out what they’re doing at the conference…

Ashley Haire

Jesse Boudart, a master’s student in civil engineering at Portland State, presented research (along with associate professor Miguel Figliozzi) on vehicle fleets. Bodart’s work attempts to answer the question, “With the volatility of the economy, are hybrid and electric vehicle technologies worth the investment?”

TriMet has also sent staffers to TRB. David Crout is a TriMet planner and analyst. “I’m here to gather information on transit safety as well as insight on transit performance measures.”

Talk about innovative research; two papers at TRB deal with the interesting topic of how transportation planners should prepare for an increase in flooding and landslides as a result of climate change.

Hau Hagedorn

Ashley Haire, a Portland State and OTREC researcher, is presenting a new transportation education model developed in part by PSU colleague Christopher Monsere. In one project, they examined data to determine what factors influence the time it takes cyclists to cross an intersection.

North Portland resident Hau Hagedorn is OTREC’s research program manager. She’s on a committee at TRB to figure out how to sell the value of transportation research to the business community. “We all know it… But in light of the economic conditions and how research is under scrutiny across the country, our committee is really focusing on how to make CEOs [state DOT directors] and decision makers understand the role research plays in transportation.”

Hagedorn also joined the TRB bicycle tour on Monday, saying it was the highlight of her trip so far. “It’s great to be able to get out and actually see things that way.”

It’s good to see Portlanders keeping up with the forefront of innovation when it comes to transportation. Hopefully some of their best finds at TRB will end up improving how we all get around.

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