USDOT awards $3.5 million to continue OTREC sustainable transportation research and programs


The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Portland State University $3.5 million for research and education on sustainable transportation topics, the department announced today. The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC), the university transportation center based at PSU, will administer the grant.

OTREC, a partnership between PSU, the University of Oregon and the Oregon Institute of Technology, will join with the University of Utah to carry out the grant. This award reaffirms OTREC’s evolution into one of the nation’s leading transportation livability research centers and provides the resources to address national problems strategically.

Research and educational programs under the grant will focus on the following topics:

  • Improving health and safety for all users
  • Increasing the efficiency and understanding of cycling, walking and transit
  • Making the best use of data, performance measures and analytical tools
  • Integrating multimodal transportation with land use
  • Taking long-term action on transportation emissions and climate change.

PSU was one of 63 applicants for 22 grants. The grant competition challenged university transportation center leaders to demonstrate the ability and experience to produce the country’s best transportation research and educational programs. “In five years, OTREC has advanced the state of research on topics such as the connections between transportation and land use; intelligent transportation systems; and bicycle, pedestrian and transit infrastructure,” said OTREC Director Jennifer Dill. “This award recognizes that work while allowing us to focus deeper on pressing national problems.”

“The U.S. Department of Transportation has recognized the incredible work being done by this University Transportation Center,” said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio. “In 2005, I designated funds in SAFETEA-LU, a federal surface transportation bill, to create this UTC. Since then, this UTC has been on the cutting edge of transportation innovation and advanced research. This grant will continue the UTC’s work to improve the transportation infrastructure which is vital to our economic competitiveness here in Oregon and across the country.”

The grant ensures that Oregon research will continue to guide national transportation decisions, said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley. “OTREC is an organization that is doing great work around regional planning and creating a vision for our transportation infrastructure’s future,” Merkley said. “This grant will help OTREC continue their important work around livability, environmental sustainability, and safety. I am excited to see the research put forth by the consortium.”

In addition, the grant affirms PSU’s national reputation for integrating livability and sustainability into transportation research and education, university President Wim Wiewel said. “Since its founding in 2006, OTREC has helped solidify Portland State’s status as an elite transportation research institution and boosted our international reputation for leadership in sustainability. I’m thrilled with the new opportunities this grant represents.”

As with current OTREC research, each project under the new grant will require a one-to-one match, doubling the effect of each federal dollar awarded. In recent years, OTREC has worked with nearly 70 partners on projects, including transportation departments, transit districts, metropolitan planning organizations, foundations and private businesses.

Projects under the grant will be awarded competitively and will begin this coming fall. For the first time in this consortium, researchers from the University of Utah can lead projects. “This partnership brings together the best researchers from Oregon and Utah to address the problems that affect us all,” said Associate Professor Keith Bartholomew, UU’s campus leader in the new partnership. “Our expertise in areas such as transit-oriented development and carbon emissions reduction, along with our history of successful and creative public engagement in planning processes, makes our respective states natural partners.”

Information on the USDOT University Transportation Centers program is at

More on the grant competition is at

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