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Chair of Oregon Transportation Commission resigns due to health reasons

Posted by on August 26th, 2011 at 11:39 am

Oregon Bike Summit-20.jpg

Achterman speaking at the
2008 Oregon Bike Summit.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Gail Achterman is stepping down from her role as Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission due to health reasons.

The announcement came via email from Director of ODOT Matt Garrett yesterday, who said Achterman, “has significant health issues that require her full attention and energies.” According to a website where Achterman has been sharing updates about her condition, she has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Here’s more from Garrett:

Mia and Gail-24

Achterman (right) with Mia Birk
at the 2011 Active Transportation
Summit in Salem.

“There are truly no words that can describe the impact Gail has had on this agency, the transportation commission, Oregon and the national transportation debate. Her intelligence, dedication and sacrifice is only surpassed by her humanity and caring for her fellow Oregonians. While her influence on policy discussions of climate change, transportation, land use, economic development, multimodal system transformation, and building relationships with communities and partners is impossible to understate, she has always understood the gravity of these policy conversations and how they would affect the lives of Oregonians.

We send her our collective best wishes, thoughts and prayers.”

Achterman served on the OTC since 2000 and has been Chair since 2007. Her term was set to expire in June 2012.

The OTC is a governor appointed commission that sets transportation policy for our state (I once referred to them as the “Jedi Council” for transportation decisions). Their perspective, largely guided by Actherman, has a profound impact on how Oregon gets around. Achterman’s presence on the OTC will be missed as she was a big part of ODOT’s “non-highway future” and truly understands the importance and urgency of active transportation.

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“Impossible to understate”? I hope that is a misprint, and Matt Garrett’s email said “impossible to overstate.”

Gail has been so generous with her time and her wisdom to make Oregon and our world better. My thoughts and prayers are with her.


Gail, be strong in your fight. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thanks for all you have done for us.

matt picio

Note: Gail passed away today about 2pm. Condolences and best wishes to her family and friends, she was an amazing person and will be missed.