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Portland’s Transport Research Guru Headed to Obama Administration

1:44 PM PDT on August 5, 2009

The U.S. DOT is expected to announce today that it has tapped Robert Bertini,
a Portland State University professor who headed Oregon's state-wide
transport research effort, as the No. 2 at the Research and Innovative
Technology Administration -- the government's home for stats on all
things transportation.

large_Rob_Bertini_1.jpgRobert Bertini (Photo: Oregonian)

hiring is an uber-wonky personnel move, to be sure. But it also signals
the ascent of a reason-based approach to transportation policy, with a
focus on increasing efficiency by helping communities shift a greater
share of trips onto transit.

In testimony before Congress
last year, Bertini outlined the dizzying array of projects his Oregon
research consortium, known as OTREC, has embarked upon after its
founding in 2005 (with a grant from the federal DOT). Here's just a
sampling of what OTREC has studied:

  • The socio-economic impacts of imposing a new vehicle miles traveled tax
  • The
    relationship between transportation planning and land use, assuming "a
    certain set of goals are determined and pursued by politicians and
    planners," as Bertini put it
  • How to shift suburban multi-family housing developments to a broader mix of transport modes
  • Using technology to encourage more neighborhood pedestrian activity
  • How community safety affects public health for lower-income children
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