MURP Students win 2017 AICP Student Project Award

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A group of students from the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program at Portland State University’s Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning received a 2017 Student Project Award from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) for their Planning Workshop project, OHSU Night Access Plan. This is the seventh time in the last 11 years that a PSU student project has won a national award from AICP, more than any other planning program in the United States.

The student team was comprised of David Backes, Lea Anderson, Shane Valle, Rae-Leigh Stark, Taylor Phillips, and Abe Moland, and faculty advisers included Dr. Ethan Seltzer, Dr. Marisa Zapata, and Susan Hartnett. The students will be recognized in May at the 2017 American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Conference in New York City.

The OHSU Night Access Plan lays out a strategy to make getting to and from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) at night and early in the morning safer, more convenient, and affordable. Employees who work during these hours have fewer transportation options than daytime workers do. Since many of these employees work the least favorable shifts because they are new or have lower incomes, they are even more disadvantaged than those traveling during daytime hours.

“The goal of the plan, ultimately, is to create a more inclusive campus,” says OHSU Transportation and Parking Operations Manager Brett Dodson, “and to do this by increasing the equity of the daily and nightly environment that people experience on their way to and from OHSU.”

PSU’s Planning Workshop embodies the university’s motto of “Let Knowledge Serve the City.” Each year, workshop students work with community clients to develop projects that are problem‐centered, require the development and evaluation of alternatives, result in a recommended course of action, and depend on direct community participation. Last year, MURP students received an AICP Student Project Award for their project entitled Fourth Plain Forward: An Action Plan for Vancouver's Multicultural Business District, which the City of Vancouver has since adopted as a multi-year initiative to improve the portion of East Fourth Plain Boulevard known as Vancouver’s “international business district.”

“OHSU has already activated several of the team’s recommendations,” says Dodson. “We are piloting a ride share program, a shuttle service from a major transit hub, and reducing the cost of a transit pass to a flat 95% discount to anyone with a badge.”