Portland’s Transport Research Guru Headed to Obama Administration

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

Bertini’s 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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