The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium held the West’s first listening session Wednesday under the Sustainable Communities Partnership, the effort to get federal agencies working together on green transportation and housing projects. Regional administrators from the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency met with local, regional and state leaders for open-ended discussions on building sustainable communities.

More than 150 people attended the daylong Oregon Community Dialogue at Willamette University  in Salem, organized by OTREC and facilitated by the National Policy Consensus Center. In one-on-one interviews, participants brainstormed the barriers to sustainable communities, the existing opportunities to work together and actions they could take to take to make their own communities more sustainable. They also discussed what they could accomplish if agencies did a better job of working together to pay for projects.

The discussions produced the following insights:

  • Barriers to sustainable communities include a lack of shared vision on results, a lack of integration and coordination, a lack of marketplace incentives and confusion over how to achieve the goals.
  • Federal agencies working better together would create opportunities for collaboration at all levels of government, give flexibility to use resources in new ways, allow for a better...
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The Miller award will provide OTREC with the funding to develop a Transportation Sustainability Roadmap for Oregon. This roadmap will guide research, education and partnership initiatives, establishing the foundation for creating sustainable transportation research, education, and community engagement activities. The project will build momentum on a number of efforts currently underway including OTREC’s participation in the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) workshop for transportation professionals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and involvement in the development of the Best Practices Manual for a ìClean, Green and Smartî West Coast transportation corridor system and other national efforts through the U.S. Department of Transportation. This project will leverage the expertise of staff and partner faculty researchers in order to develop a more focused approach to sustainable transportation.

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The video begins at 9:39.

I-5 is the only continuous north/south interstate highway on the West Coast, providing a commerce link for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the Vancouver-Portland region, I-5 is one of two major highways that provide interstate connectivity and mobility. Operation of the I-5 crossing over the Columbia River is directly influenced by the 5-mile segment of I-5 between SR 500 in Vancouver and Columbia Boulevard in Portland. This segment includes interchanges with three state highways (SR 14, SR 500, and SR 501) and five major arterial roadways that serve a variety of land uses, and provides access to downtown Vancouver, two international ports, industrial centers, residential neighborhoods, retail centers, and recreational areas.

The existing I-5 crossing of the Columbia River consists of two side-by-side bridges, built four decades apart. The crossing, which served 30,000 vehicles per day in the 1960s, now carries more than 130,000 automobiles, buses, and trucks each weekday. The bridges are stretched far beyond capacity—the hours of stop-and-go traffic grow every year. As the metropolitan region grows, mobility and accessibility for automobile, vehicular freight, and transit will decline unless added capacity is provided in the I-5...

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The video begins at 12:44.

Abstract: Average Portland rainfall is nearly 37 inches a year. This rainfall usually runs off streets and other impervious surfaces such as roofs and into the sewer system, but this can cause two major problems. First, disposing of runoff in a storm sewer that drains to a river or stream sends dirt, metals, oil, pesticides, and other pollutants right into the water. Second, in neighborhoods with combined sewers, (that is, sewage systems that combine household sewage with the runoff waters from rain), after a heavy rainfall, the high volume of sewage sent to be treated can overwhelm the treatment center and lead to raw sewage discharges into the Willamette River. About 27% of the city is covered by buildings, streets, sidewalks, and other hard, or impervious, surfaces. Paved streets cover about 19% of Portland’s land area, but those streets account for nearly half of Portland’s impervious surfaces. Paved streets contribute 66% of the total annual stormwater runoff and 77% of the pollutants in the runoff. To address this problem, the City of Portland has begun investing in ways to treat stormwater runoff before it enters the sewer system. The city has built and is developing a number of “green street” projects that mimic what happens to rain when it falls on undeveloped areas. A green street uses landscaped curb extensions, lowered infiltration planters and basins, swales, trees,...

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The video begins at 4:44.

For fifteen years, scholars have claimed that accessibility-based transportation planning is at the brink of becoming a new paradigm. In contrast with traditional mobility-based planning methods, which focus on the cost of transportation per mile, accessibility-based planning methods place more importance on people's ability to reach various destinations and their access to transit systems. Its use may trail behind traditional planning methods nationally, due to vague definitions, momentum of traditional performance measures, and other factors. However, this webinar argues that accessibility-based planning is demonstrably necessary in shrinking cities across the U.S., and especially among minority populations in those cities.

As shrinking cities’ need for accessibility-based planning is distinct, the challenges to accomplishing it are also distinct and rather severe. Again, this is especially true when planning for minority populations, for whom there is often a level of mistrust in the policy process itself which must be overcome. After presenting evidence of both the especial need for and the challenges inherent in accessibility-based planning in shrinking cities (and especially among minority populations), this presentation proposes potential strategies for implementation and for applying this method in those scenarios in which it is most needed.

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The video begins at 4:40.

A major aspect of transportation planning is understanding behavior: how to predict it and how to influence it over the long term. Transportation models typically emphasize policy variables such as travel time and cost. While clearly important, we hypothesize that other variables may be just as influential, namely, variables related to environmental consequences such as greenhouse gas emissions. This work is motivated by several factors. First, there is evidence from behavioral economics in non-transport domains that providing personalized information regarding environmental impact can significantly modify behavior. Second, applications to transport appear to have potential as many studies find that environmental consciousness influences transport behavior. Third, there are a growing number of transportation websites that are reporting environmental savings. Finally, smartphones provide the technological means to provide real-time, person-specific travel information regarding trip times, costs, and environmental impacts. Results from a computer laboratory experiment will be presented, which indicate that providing informing regarding environmental impacts significantly increases sustainable behaviors. Further, the experiments suggest a “value of green” of around 44-84 cents per pound of CO2 savings.

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