An unpaved trail on grass with a yellow flower nearby
Photo by Matthew Sleep
Matthew Sleep, Oregon Institute of Technology

Approximately 7,700 years ago—in a cataclysmic event which the Klamath people retold and passed down for over 300 generations—Mount Mazama erupted, forming Crater Lake in Oregon. With molten rock reaching temperatures of up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, complex chemical reactions ensued. The resulting Mazama ash holds some properties that are similar to those in portland cement.

Today, most construction projects use portland cement, which takes an excessive amount of energy to create. Materials are mined from several different sources and transported, then...

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Mt. Mazama ash being poured into a yellow bucket
Principal Investigator: Matthew Sleep, Oregon Institute of Technology
Learn more about this research by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

The latest Small Starts study from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) offers sustainable road building materials for rural infrastructure, from an unlikely source.

Approximately 7,000 years ago, the eruption of Oregon's Mt. Mazama blanketed the Klamath Basin region with a thick layer of volcanic ash. Matthew Sleep, an associate professor of civil engineering at Oregon Tech, investigated the use of this ash as a natural pozzolan for soil stabilization and unpaved roadway improvement. He found that the ash, prevalent in Southern Oregon, has the potential to be used for gravel roadway dust abatement. 

Portland cement, the current industry standard, is a basic ingredient in concrete and mortar. A caustic material that causes chemical burns, it was first developed in the 19th century. It’s time for a new approach.

A...

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Principal Investigator: Danya Rumore, University of Utah
Learn more about this education project by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page. Hear firsthand from the investigators by registering for the upcoming April 26 webinar.

A newly published NITC education project offers tools for teaching collaborative regional planning in communities close to national parks and other natural attractions.

Referred to as Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) communities, these unique places have their own set of challenges and opportunities. They are often located near small towns or rural areas with limited transportation networks, but  due to the periodic influx of visitors, can experience “big city problems” like congestion and sprawl.

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Seven Oregon Tech students attended a sustainable pavement conference in Portland thanks to NITC program funding. The 2015 Asphalt Sustainability Conference West highlighted innovations in technologies and practices.

Danit Hubbell, Oregon Tech’s ITE student chapter president, said she and the other students who made the trip last month are all transportation focused, though they have varying degrees of interest in asphalt. The conference featured a good mix of topics, she said.

The term “sustainability” can vary based on context, and that was reflected in the conference sessions, Hubbell said. “One presenter talked about it as the asphalt itself and the materials it’s made out of. For others, it was the transportation and the longevity.

“I think it encompasses both of those,” she said.

Asphalt paving has come a long way in the last few years, Hubbell said, with sustainability driving much of the changes. Oregon Tech has stayed on top of those innovations, she said, as all civil engineering students must complete a infrastructure sustainability course.

The conference seemed to draw more transportation practitioners than students, Hubbell said, which was part of its appeal. The Oregon Tech students relished the opportunity to browse the exhibitors’ tables and talk with professionals from various organizations.

Hubbell, who graduates next March, already has a job lined up. She’ll join Kiewit Infrastructure...

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OTREC researchers have done some work toward developing reliable standards for the use of recycled concrete aggregates in new concrete.
Making concrete out of recycled concrete aggregate, or RCA, can be a sustainable and cost-saving alternative to other aggregates. However, the quality of concrete made with RCA is dependent on the quality of the recycled material used. OTREC researchers Jason Ideker of Oregon State University and Jennifer Eisenhauer Tanner of the University of Wyoming, with graduate student researchers Matthew P. Adams and Angela Jones, sought to determine some of the primary concerns involved with the use of RCA and to arrive at methods of assessing its durability for use in new concrete.
 
Alkali-silica reaction occurs in concrete over time, causing it to expand and eventually weaken. There are standards for testing aggregate to determine its susceptibility to this reaction, but these testing standards were developed for traditional aggregates, not for RCA. Phase 1 of this research project involved accelerated laboratory tests related to assessing alkali-silica reactivity (ASR) of RCA. A team of four laboratories performed testing using the same materials to determine the variation between different laboratories.
 
Phase II of the...
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John MacArthur, OTREC’s Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, was a panel moderator at this year's EVRoadmap 6 workshop.

The EV Roadmap workshop series has established itself as the Pacific Northwest’s premier electric vehicle gathering, with a goal of increasing the visibility and understanding of electric vehicles.

Co-sponsored by Portland General Electric and Portland State University, the event supports the shared goal of building a stronger, more sustainable transportation landscape.

The sixth annual EV Roadmap workshop, "Drivers Take the Spotlight," was a continuation of this fruitful partnership. The event was held at the World Trade Center in Portland on July 30-31, 2013. MacArthur moderated a panel titled "Not All Drivers Need Four Wheels." This panel focused on odd-sized electric vehicles such as e-bikes.

E-bikes are a specialty of MacArthur's; he has conducted several research studies about people's use and perceptions of the electric-assisted bicycle. His project "Evaluation of Electric Bike Use in Portland Metro Region" (click here for more information about that project, or to download the final report) focused on exploring the potential new market segments for e-bikes and the economic, operational, safety, and transportation issues surrounding...

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David Timm, P.E., the Brasfield & Gorrie Professor of Civil Engineering at Auburn University, traveled to Oregon in mid-March as part of the NITC Visiting Scholar program.

Timm is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading expert in the field of perpetual pavement, a sustainable approach to pavement design. He is also the author of a perpetual pavement design software, PerRoad. Engineers in this field have developed a pavement system that has the potential to last for up to 50 years, with only minor periodic surface repairs.

The visit, arranged by Oregon Tech’s NITC Executive Committee member Roger Lindgren, started with a March 13 PerRoad workshop in Salem. The workshop was attended by designers from industry and from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

On March 14, Timm led another PerRoad workshop on the campus of Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. Following the workshop was a presentation, focusing on perpetual pavement design and the advancements being made at Auburn’s National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT).

The Klamath Falls workshop was attended by 14 engineers and engineering students, with 53 people attending the presentation afterward.

Last week in Portland, family, friends, and colleagues gathered to remember one of Oregon’s most stalwart and effective public servants, Gail Achterman. Gail committed her life to furthering environmental and transportation issues to improve the quality of life in Oregon. Her commitment to improving and connecting transportation with land use and environmental policy was the reason she received the 2011 OTREC DeFazio Transportation Hall of Fame Award.

A fourth-generation Oregonian, Gail distinguished herself in law and natural-resource issues (as the Director of the Institute of Natural Resources at OSU) even before her involvement in transportation. As Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, Gail provided policy guidance to move the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) toward a sustainable future. She has been instrumental in expanding the focus of ODOT beyond highways to include a complete multi-modal transport system.

Recognizing the importance of working smarter, not harder, Gail championed an aggressive program to advance Oregon’s sophisticated integrated models for transportation, land use and the economy. The program boosted efforts such as the GreenSTEP model to address greenhouse gas emission reductions, research into least-cost planning concepts for the...

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Portland State University transportation engineering students added their expertise to a yearlong effort to help Salem reinvent itself. The Urban Transportation Systems class looked at options to improve bicycle and pedestrian travel in the city’s downtown core.

The effort is part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, one of three OTREC-funded initiatives. The initiative, led by co-directors Marc Schlossberg and Nico Larco at the University of Oregon, chooses one Oregon city per year to make its classroom, directing coursework to help the city adopt sustainable practices.

This year is the first to include Portland State University’s participation. Students in assistant Professor Chris Monsere’s Civil Engineering 454 class gave presentations Nov. 29 and Dec. 1 on several alternatives to improve bicycle and pedestrian transportation and safety. Projects included:

  • Accommodating the bicycle and pedestrian crossing on Union Street at Commercial Street while considering impacts to automobile traffic
  • Connecting cyclists and pedestrians at the end of the Union Street path at Wallace Road
  • A bicycle and pedestrian route west of Wallace Road
  • Converting selected one-way streets to two-way operation
  • Traffic analysis of options drafted by bicycle advocates for the intersection of Commercial and Liberty streets at Vista Avenue
  • Bicycle...
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