PBOT Director Leah Treat to take job with private firm

Leah Treat speaking at Roosevelt High School in November 2017.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

The Leah Treat era at the Portland Bureau of Transportation is over.

The PBOT director hired in June 2013 announced today that she has taken a job with Nelson\Nygaard, a California-based transportation consultancy. Treat will be the managing director of the firm’s 130 employees. Nygaard is a frequent contractor with the City of Portland, working on a range of projects including the Foster Road Streetscape Plan.

In a statement about the hire on their website, Nelson\Nygaard’s current managing director Paul Jewel said, “We have found in her, hands-down, the most qualified, most capable, and most dynamic leader to take our firm to the next level—and to help deliver to our clients the most progressive transportation solutions in the world.”

For her part, Treat said, “My experiences and broad exposure to urban politics will help both Nelson\Nygaard and the firm’s clients achieve their goals of safe, smart, and equitable transportation.”

“Leah’s talent, combined with her passion and enthusiasm for her work, make her indispensable to the community she serves,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler added. “The citizens of the City of Portland —myself included — are fortunate to have benefited from her leadership over the past five years. She has helped our city to become the global exemplar of urban mobility and the gold standard for transportation innovation.”

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Business leaders hear how Portland has fallen behind and needs their support to reach transportation goals

The event was held at the vintage decor shop Urbanite on SE Grand Ave.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Business for a Better Portland hosted its first policy event of the year last night. The up-and-coming association is looking to be a counterbalance the impact of the Portland Business Alliance, a more conservative group that has had a vast — and some would say deleterious — influence on city transportation policy over the years.

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Mayor Wheeler on autonomous vehicles: Portland is “open for business”

Bike traffic on NW Broadway-20

Don’t worry! Those cars are driving themselves.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Hoping to get out in front of what many see as an inevitable tidal wave in vehicle technology that will transform our streets, the City of Portland has announced the Smart Autonomous Vehicles Initiative (SAVI).

The announcement was made this morning at the Portland Business Alliance’s April Forum Breakfast event. Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman spoke at the event and formally launched the initiative via the Portland Bureau of Transportation (which Saltzman oversees). By the end of this year the city will develop a suite of policies and review proposals from private companies that want to test AVs on Portland streets.

“My goal is to have an autonomous vehicle pilot program in Portland, working for Portlanders, by the end of the year,” Wheeler said in a statement. “To the inventors, investors and innovators, I’m here to say that Portland is open for business. By working with private industry, we can make sure that cutting edge technology expands access to public transit and reduces pollution and congestion.”

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Insiders dish on regional funding measure, BRT dreams, and more at ‘Future’ panel

The panel from L to R: Michael Andersen (moderator), Tyler Frisbee, Leah Treat, Chris Rall.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the debate in Salem about a major transportation funding package just starts to boil (more on that later), insiders in the Portland region have been meeting for months to decide the framework of a separate, regional funding measure.

The future of that effort and the politics behind it were one of several topics discussed at a panel hosted by the local chapter of Young Professionals in Transportation at a pub in northwest Portland last night. The panel featured: Metro Policy and Innovation Manager (and former senior assistant to Congressman Earl Blumenauer) Tyler Frisbee; Transportation for America NW Region Organizer Chris Rall; and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat. The discussion was moderated by the ever-sharp People for Bikes writer and former BikePortland News Editor Michael Andersen.

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Portland’s new surge in bike commuting is real – and it’s gas-price proof

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Rush hour on Williams Avenue in May. Once again in 2015, 7 percent of Portlanders said their main commute to work is by bike.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Gas prices? What gas prices?

The great gasoline plunge of late 2014 hasn’t cut the rate of Portlanders biking to work, at least not in 2015.

In fact, drive-alone commuting among Portland residents hit a modern-day low last year — the fifth such record in six years — and public transit commuting jumped to a modern high of 13.4 percent.

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Leah Treat reflects on two years at the helm of PBOT

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Leah Treat.jpg

Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat at the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last night.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

Many people move to Portland because it’s a place they can live with their family without having to use a car for every trip. For Leah Treat, that fact not only drew her here, it’s also part of her job description.

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Full speed ahead: City’s new transportation dashboard tracks progress

Last week at the Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, Los Angeles Transportation Director Seleta Reynolds said the overwhelming majority of her job is good management, not the clever policymaking that everybody usually wants to talk about.

Here at BikePortland, we’re guilty of talking a lot about clever (or not so clever) policymaking. But this year, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is also going through some operational changes that are worth knowing about.

Under Director Leah Treat, PBOT is working to be more precise and public about the status of its many projects. And a new tool on its website looks a lot like a gimmick but is actually a pretty good new way to keep track of everything the city is up to.

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Comment of the Week: One more Portland bike user for better pavement

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Neighborhood greenway conditions-1

North Michigan Avenue: tighten your bolts.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This time last year, it looked as if Portland’s city council was about to grit its teeth and start addressing two problems that Mayor Charlie Hales rode into office pledging to fix: the twin facts that our roads are both consistently unsafe and disintegrating beneath us.

Now, as Portland’s leaders get ready to file back in from vacation, all available signs point to both of those cans being kicked further down the road.

Meanwhile, as BikePortland reader Alex wrote in a comment on Tuesday, bike trips through this town keep getting bumpier.

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Turnover of top traffic engineers will shake up city and county

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Cycletrack on SW Broadway-2

Rob Burchfield, who spent 16 years as Portland’s city traffic engineer, is moving to the private sector.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Two people whose judgment calls have shaped Portland’s streets for years — in one case, for decades — are stepping into jobs elsewhere.

Rob Burchfield, Portland’s top traffic engineer since 1999 and a nationally respected innovator on bike-friendly street designs, will leave the city on Friday after almost 30 years. He’s becoming the regional engineering director for Toole Design Group, a national engineering and design firm that specializes in biking and walking projects.

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A sneak peek at PBOT’s upcoming two-year action plan

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Detail from PBOT workplan summary.

Yesterday, we quoted the City of Portland’s transportation director about two of her most important policy goals for 2015. But her third goal for the year is far broader: to give the department, for the first time in years, a specific short-term to-do list.

The 170-item list, prepared with the help of consulting firm Nelson\Nygaard, aspires to cover everything the city’s 700-person transportation bureau is up to in the next two years.

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