Feb 15, 2013

Students at Portland’s Cleveland High School learned on Tuesday that their school sits at the heart of pioneering transportation research. The school is at the corner of Southeast 26th Avenue and Powell Boulevard, a corridor in which a variety of advanced traffic management technologies have been installed.

Adam Moore, a graduate student in transportation engineering at Portland State University, and Jon Makler, OTREC’s program manager for education and technology transfer, were guest teaching some algebra classes at Cleveland High as part of National Engineering Month.

In Oregon every February, the Business Education Compact helps match thousands of professional engineers who volunteer to teach in classrooms from elementary through high school. The goal is to raise student awareness of the opportunities and rewards of working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

This is the third year of volunteering for Makler, who developed a lesson plan that describes the many ways that transportation relies on STEM skills, including engineering. After watching helmet cam footage of biking in downtown Portland, students used basic algebra to learn about how traffic signals are timed to make streets safe and efficient for people in cars, on bike or on foot.

But Moore stole the show as he explained how various devices at the intersection of Powell and 26th help manage traffic. Students were...

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Feb 25, 2011

If you weren’t one of the 10,000 people who attended the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting in January, there are fifty students and twenty faculty for PSU, UO, OSU and OIT who can tell you what they learned there.  OTREC's bright yellow lanyards made our presence especially visible! PSU student Brian Davis blogged about his experience, OTREC’s Jon Makler was interviewed in a local newspaper, and the Oregon “delegation” at the conference was covered by both local and national blogs. Team OTREC filed some daily debriefs, highlighting presentations on topics such as federal stimulus investments in Los Angeles and Vermont’s efforts to address their transportation workforce crisis with returning military veterans (as well as the...

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Dec 06, 2010

Why build bigger when you can get more out of what you already have? That’s a question agencies across the country have considered as they face costly expansions of roadway systems or are unwilling or unable to keep building.

Adaptive signal control technologies offer the promise of reducing congestion, smoothing traffic flow and improving safety on existing roads. The Federal Highway Administration has been holding regional summits about this technology across the country.

Metro hosted one of the summits Dec. 1 at the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) laboratory at Portland State University. Federal Highway Administration ITS specialists Paul Olson and James Colyar gave an overview of the technology, which can:

  • Automatically adapt to changes in traffic
  • Improve travel time reliability
  • Reduce congestion and fuel consumption
  • Monitor and respond to gaps in traffic signal operations
  • Reduce complaints agencies get about bad signal timing

Adaptive technologies use data from sensors to adjust traffic lights, keeping the green light for as long as conditions warrant. The process updates in a few minutes what traditional signal retiming might accomplish only every few years.

The technology is best suited for arterials that receive variable or unpredictable traffic. On these roads, the signals can improve travel time, emissions and fuel consumption by 10 percent or more. Where signal timing has been...

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