CORVALLIS - More than 400 transportation professionals from throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are expected to participate in the 2004 Northwest Transportation Conference on Feb. 10-12 at Oregon State University.
The conference, co-sponsored by the Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation at OSU, will feature workshops and presentations on many transportation-related topics - including a Segway scooter demonstration that will kick off the three-day event.
The conference, held at the CH2M HILL Alumni Center on the OSU campus, will feature transportation experts and officials addressing a wide range of issues, from how Oregon can utilize European bicycle/pedestrian-oriented designs to how homeland security and an aging population will impact the region's transportation.
Faculty from the OSU College of Engineering will present reports on OSU's current transportation-related research. Civil engineering professor Chris Higgins will outline the status of the research project looking into Oregon's cracked bridges. David Porter and David Kim, both professors of industrial and manufacturing engineering at OSU, will discuss a proposed vehicle miles traveled tax that might one day replace the gas tax by utilizing wireless technology to tally miles driven. Other sections include safe fish passage through transportation systems, making trains faster and safer, and a speech by Jonathan Nicholas, founder and president of Cycle Oregon.
"The College of Engineering is playing a larger and larger role in developing solutions to complex transportation issues for Oregon and beyond, so it's very appropriate that OSU is hosting this exciting conference," said James Lundy, interim director of the Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation. "As Oregon continues to grow, efficient transportation becomes critical. We want to help this state be a leader in innovative, creative transportation solutions."
At the Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation, one of the College of Engineering's new research clusters, OSU faculty and students are researching ways to make structures that can better withstand tsunamis and earthquakes, Lundy said. Kiewit Center researchers are also developing designs to make airliners, trains and buses more accessible to people with disabilities.
The theme for this year's conference is Partnerships in Transportation, which ties in to the Oregon Business Plan as well as to Gov. Ted Kulongoski's economic development agenda.
Investing in roads and bridges is one of the 12 initiatives in the Oregon Business Plan. At the Oregon Leadership Summit last December, Kulongoski said that transportation needs to be at the forefront of future economic development.
"After years of unproductive wrangling in this state, this year we collaborated on a tremendous transportation package that will be the largest public works project in Oregon since the interstate was built," Kulongoski said. "If your employees cannot get to work on time, and if we can't help you get your goods to market, this state will not prosper."
Kulongoski also emphasized that Oregon is uniquely situated to be a gateway to the world, as well as a gateway to the U.S. for inbound passengers and goods. "But that works only if we are consistently working to build our multi-modal transportation system," he said.
The conference has been held approximately every two years since 1949, and serves as a forum for engineers, designers, builders, operators, planners and other transportation officials. Vendor displays will be open throughout the conference.