An unpaved trail on grass with a yellow flower nearby
May 07, 2020
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 heated to thousands of...

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Mt. Mazama ash being poured into a yellow bucket
Jun 18, 2018
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 sustainability analysis concluded that replacing...

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Mar 14, 2018
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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Nov 19, 2015

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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Jan 21, 2015

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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Jan 09, 2015

The video begins at 4:44.

Jan 09, 2015

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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Jan 09, 2015

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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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