USDOT, White House to honor transportation “champions of change” for innovation

Updated Nov 19, 2015

white house

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the White House will honor several transportation officials tomorrow in a ceremony recognizing their work for “innovating transportation and growing the American economy” in the White House Transportation Champions of Change program.

The program is also referred to as “Beyond Traffic: Innovators in Transportation for the Future” and this year will honor 11 individuals across four categories. These include How We Move, How We Move Things, How We Move Better and How We Adapt. Nominees were taken up until August 1.

The following, including White House descriptions of their transportation contributions, will be honored.

Atorod Azizimamini

“Dr. Atorod Azizimamini invented the Folded Plate Steel Bridge System, which provides a cost-effective alternative for rapidly replacing or retrofitting short span bridges without impacting traffic or mobility.” Azizinamini is the director of Florida International University’s Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center.

Marilyn Bull

“Dr. Marilyn Bull has developed a reputation for her commitment to child safety, working with entrepreneurs and manufacturers to develop products to help children with special health care needs travel safely. She and her team developed the curriculum on ‘Safe Travel for All Children,’ which is used nationally and internationally for training.”

Habib Dagher

“Dr. Habib Dagher, a leading advocate for developing advanced structural systems, and his team at the University of Maine designed the “Bridge in a Backpack” program, which uses innovative and lightweight bridge materials. His concept is helping states construct new bridges in an efficient, innovative way.”

Nathaniel Ford

“Nathaniel Ford led efforts to overhaul Jacksonville Transit Authority (JTA) by implementing the Route Optimization Initiative, which has increased ridership, decreased travel times, and made safety upgrades to buses and stations. His efforts have transformed JTA into a more reliable, efficient, and safer system for the people of Jacksonville.”

Peter Lagerwey

“Peter Lagerway has spent over 30 years managing pedestrian/bicycle planning and design projects with the City of Seattle and as a consultant to communities throughout the country. Peter developed, refined, and promoted the concept of a “road diet,” which reduces four lane roadways to three, making room for bike lanes and pedestrians.”

Robert Portiss

“Robert Portiss, who has been a passionate advocate for inland waterways issues for over 40 years, was instrumental in forging a formal partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association. His advocacy efforts led to enhanced partnership between private and public stakeholders.”

Olatunji Reed

“Olatunji Reed has worked to build a diverse, inclusive, and equitable bicycling culture throughout Chicago, which revitalizes underserved communities, improves health, and gives people greater accessibility. He leads a coalition of cycling advocates fighting for a citywide biking infrastructure that is equitable and beneficial for all Chicagoans.”

Elaine Roberts

“Elaine Roberts was instrumental in envisioning, designing, developing, and implementing a plan to build a joint use facility in Columbus, Ohio. Her leadership led to the opening of the Rickenbacker Airport, a 210,000 lift/truck intermodal facility that is the heart of the Heartland Corridor.”

James Sayer

“Dr. Jim Sayer was instrumental in developing the University of Michigan’s vision for introducing connected and automated vehicle technologies. To achieve this, he designed, developed and implemented M City, a facility that will allow the automotive community to test automated vehicle technologies.”

Kyle Wagenschutz

“Kyle Wagenschutz helped to establish Memphis as a national leader on bicycle and pedestrian programs in an urban environment. His work led to the city’s first bicycle master plan, which secured funding to construct more than 100 miles of new dedicated bike lanes, which has helped make the city more accessible, livable, and walkable.”

Carl Weimer

“Carl Weimer is Executive Director of the National Pipeline Safety Trust. Under his leadership, the Trust has worked with community and industry groups alike to improve pipeline safety, testified to Congress over 20 times, and successfully advocated for stronger pipeline safety regulations at the local, state and federal level.”