When nine wildlife cameras for an OTREC project in Wilsonville were stolen, a Portland State University graduate student worried that three years of her life had disappeared with them. Leslie Bliss-Ketchum had been researching the effectiveness of wildlife passage tunnels on Boeckman Road in Wilsonville, part of this project, using cameras to monitor the movement of vertebrates including deer, beavers and frogs.

The cameras were stolen over the summer. Because Bliss-Ketchum couldn't afford the insurance deductible for the cameras, which are essential to her master's thesis research, her degree was in doubt. Now, an anonymous donor has agreed to pay the deductible to replace the cameras.

The donation is "really awesome and totally touching," Bliss-Ketchum told KGW.

An Oregonian story and video detail the project, led by researcher Catherine de Rivera, an assistant professor at Portland State. The KGW story on the cameras' theft is here.

Nearly two weeks after the Oregon Transportation Summit, we've had a chance to process your feedback. The most encouraging result? You'll be back.

A full 83 percent of survey respondents agree or strongly agree that they'll return for the 2011 summit. That's compared to the 43 percent of 2010 participants who attended last year.

Participants rated the workshop sessions as the most valueable aspect of the summit, at 51 percent, followed by the morning plenary session, the networking opportunities and the luncheon keynote. The keynote speaker, Peter Hessler, received high marks for his presentation on driving in China.

Speaking of which, we've posted clips from Hessler's talk, along with the full OTREC awards presentations, at the OTREC YouTube site.

We've just posted a photo set from the Oregon Transportation Summit 2010 at the OTREC flickr site. You can see photographs of the OTREC award winners, plenary and keynote speakers and breakout sessions.

View the full set here.

The second Oregon Transportation Summit followed in the footsteps of last year's inaugural summit, bringing academics and transportation professionals from a wide range of disciplines together to share their work. This year's summit drew even more people than the first.

New Yorker writer Peter Hessler gave the keynote address, reading and recounting stories from his book "Country Driving." Sometimes somber, often hilarious, Hessler's presentation enchanted the luncheon crowd at Portland State University's Smith Memorial Student Union Sept. 10.

Joshua Schank of the Bipartisan Policy Center gave a frank assesment of performance measures in transportation and the chance for change in a deeply divided Congress. Terry Moore of ECONorthwest gave a detailed and entertaining local response.

Popular breakout session topics included the Transportation Planning Rule cagematch, performance-based desicion-making and transportation governance.

Two grant opportunities announced today help K-12 schools in Oregon boost pre-engineering courses and activites. The Oregon University System and the Engineering and Technology Industry Council today announced the latest round of two grants:

  • The eCHAMP program, which pays for coaches and mentors for engineering and technology teams; and
  • Start-up money for Project Lead the Way and its pre-engineering curricula.

Both grants help prepare students for university-level engineering programs. The deadlines to apply are Oct. 11 for the 2010-2011 eCHAMP grant and Jan. 14, 2011 for the 2011-2012 eCHAMP and Project Lead the Way grants.

See the Oregon University System news release for details.

Rep. James Oberstar, chariman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, spoke at the Regional Transportation and Land Use Decision Making forum today. Oberstar, D-Minn., spoke of a future of transportation that looks something like the pre-automobile past. Then, transit dominated and roads were paved principly for bicyclists.

Transit and bicycling are now booming, with bicycle sales outpacing car sales and transit systems nationwide adding 1 million new trips, Oberstar said.

Researchers and transportation professionals need to work together better, said DeFazio, D-Ore. And gone are the days, Oberstar added, when researchers could study a transportation issue without putting the results into practice.

The representatives' comments came following a presentation and discussion of research findings at the University of Oregon's Portland campus.

Reposted from the website Revenge of the Electric Car:

In the 2006 film, Who Killed the Electric Car? nearly 5,000 pure electric cars were collected and destroyed by GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and many others despite the efforts of activists to save them. Five years later, electric cars are back… with a vengeance. Revenge of the Electric Car is the new documentary from director Chris Paine — who took his film crew around the world to chronicle the resurgence of electric cars. From backyard mechanics converting Porsches to electrics, to the multi-million dollar Silicon Valley startup Tesla Motors, to deep behind closed doors at two of the world’s biggest car makers; Revenge of the Electric Car tells the electrifying story of the race to bring EVs back from the dead — just as the perils of the oil age are the deepest they’ve ever been. Check out the website to learn more about the new documentary in the works!

On NPR's Science Friday today Ira Flatow talked about the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan LEAF, comparing and contrasting the two soon-to-be-released vehicles.  Phil Ross (editor at IEEE Spectrum) joined him in the studio as well as Nick Perry from Nissan and Tony Posawatz from the Chevrolet.

Ira Flatow asks, is the wait for EVs over?  Would you buy one?  Are they safe? How long do you have to wait to get one? What kind of plug-in do you want to see?

Nationally, for the demand for these vehicles as reported by Nick Perry & Tony Posawatz:

  • 18,000 Nissan LEAFS reserved
  • Chevrolet cannot comment yet on the specifics of how many Volts are in demand, but Tony says its "overwhelming"
  • Over 12,000 public charging stations in the ground this Fall, nationwide (19 states)
  • Chevrolet aims to be manufacturing the Volt in the US and exporting it to China by 2020
  • All car companies in the world are working on the electric drive, because governments are demanding it, not because customers are clamoring for it.

The show also responded to the concerns of many different callers on the expected topics: 

  • Price point and rebates
  • Charging and range questions
  • Safety of lithium ion batteries (they're safe). The batteries lose capacity gradually with age, after 5 years 80% capacity, after 10 years 70% capacity;...
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Posted by Mark Nystrom, Oregon Fellow working for the Association of Oregon Counties

Over the past few weeks I have been gathering information about how communities outside the I-5 corridor feel about the electrification of transportation.  This task has led me on trips with Sarah to Coos County, Tillamook County and most recently Harney County. 

When I was first given this task I was uncertain how rural Oregon would respond to the idea of electrification.  After all, everyone knows that people away from the I-5 live on ranches and drive hundreds of miles a day.  Or that seems to be the prevailing thought.  According to an ODOT study, rural Oregonians actually spend about the same amount of time in their cars as their counterparts in Portland.  In fact, most people live in towns and make the same standard trips in their cars as people in Eugene, Salem or Portland: they drive their kids to school and practice, they go to work, they go grocery shopping.  In other words, the majority of people living outside the I-5 corridor could replace their gas fueled car with a PEV.  Even the residents of these communities seemed surprised at how little they actually use their car.

That’s what has made these trips so interesting.  Once people starting thinking about it, they get pretty excited.  The people on the coast are excited about the prospect of attracting tourists from the I-5 communities to their towns by setting up charging stations.  They recognize...

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I've been thinking a lot about electric vehicles and have spent most of the summer talking to people about cars.  Over drinks at the brew-pup, at dinner parties, and cold calling folks in car related industries--- I've noodled a lot of opinions and perspective out of friends and strangers.  One thing that has come up consistently in these conversations is the cost of electric vehicles, followed by all the range and charging questions.  The cost issue is a nagging one in the back of my mind.  Yes, the cars cost money.  Yes, the cars cost quite a bit of money.  But wouldn't the sticker price be eventually smoothed out over the life of the vehicle? After all, you wouldn't be paying for much gasoline with most of the new EVs coming out, and in the case of the Leaf, you would only pay for electricity.  I've wondered about this all summer, so I finally started hunting through all my resources and I found a few car cost calculators online.  There are several out there.  Each make a different set of assumptions and none are perfect, but they do look at the life cycle costs of vehicle ownership, an essential thing to consider when making a decision about any type of car.   

The best one is the Project Get Ready Calculator by the Rocky Mountain Institute.  It allows you to select your state and inputs your current energy and gas prices.  It also allows you to choose from around 50...

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