Oregon DOT Nixes “Highways Division” for “Multi-Modal” System

It wasn’t that long ago that state highway bureaus started adopting the more mode-neutral label, “department of transportation.” In practice, however, many state DOTs still function mainly as highway agencies. Now Oregon DOT is going a step further to leave the highway-centric approach behind.

Bye bye, highway division. The Oregon Department of Transportation is taking a more integrated, multi-modal approach to transportation planning. Photo: ODOT

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports today that Oregon DOT is dropping the “Division of Highways” from its organizational chart as it makes efforts to “integrate policy and investment strategies across all modes of transportation.”

Maus has been following the story for months and says the change is more than just skin deep:

Back in July I shared that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) had embarked on a major organizational shift with the creation of a new Active Transportation Section.

A memo from ODOT Director Matt Garrett sent to staffers on Tuesday, and a new page just published to their website, reveals that the agency is taking more steps in their effort to level the playing field for all modes of transportation. Put another way, they are — at long last — on a path to becoming a truly multi-modal agency.

According to sources at the agency, ODOT’s Highway Division will now be known as “Operations Division” and their “Highway Regions” will now be known as “Transportation Regions.” These are subtle shifts in nomenclature that symbolize a significant change: ODOT is re-structuring themselves in a way that will serve more multi-modal needs rather than being highway-focused.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Charlottesville Tomorrow reports that with road money declining, the region has decided to focus its limited resources on bridge repair. Commute Orlando shares a video of a Pennsylvania bus driver helping nab a hit-and-run driver we featured in yesterday’s post. And The Fast Lane looks back 50 years at some wise words from President John F. Kennedy on the subject of transit.