Transportation and Tourism Task Force Push Ahead
The Transportation/Tourism Task Force, formed by the Governor’s Executive Order last Fall, met in Salem July 19. This leadership group representing public and private organizations meets quarterly to collaborate on prioritized ventures and ways to maximize resources; TIC is the coordinating agency.
Mike Nelson, Chair and Transportation Commissioner, thanked members for their on-going work on several projects, and Chris Warner of the Governor’s Office commended the group’s progress on behalf of Governor Kulongoski.
Items discussed included:
- Siskiyou Welcome Center: preview of facility plans based on a Cascadian design, overview of cost and timeline
- Update on status of a Lane County Visitor Center near I-5
- A partnership with the Oregon Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (OACVB) to study and recommend consistent standards for visitor information services and signage
- Scope of work for a Rest Area Strategic Plan
- Creation of a “winter travel/motorist safety” piece
- Review of rest area security programs in other states
The Task Force agreed to write letters of support for a re-designation of some existing Forest Service Roads to “Federal Forest Highways” which would allow federal funds for much-needed maintenance; and re-authorization for National Scenic Byways. A report on ODOT’s current plans for Rest Areas was also given.
The next meeting of the Task Force will be held on September 11 in Portland.
Trip Check for mobile devices tested
Good news for road travelers! ODOT’s award-winning road conditions web site, TripCheck.com, is being formatted for use with PDAs and mobile devices. The new format is now in BETA testing, and is hoped to be available for use by September, 2007.
The mobile version of TripCheck.com will contain the much of the same helpful road travel information the desktop version offers, such as traffic alerts, road conditions, and construction information. Even the most popular TripCheck.com feature – live road cameras – will be available on PDA.
The availability of TripCheck.com on PDA is exciting not only for road travelers who will be using the site, but also for TIC’s TripCheck.com listings customers. The Travel Services section of TripCheck.com, where lodging, dining, attraction and fuel customers are listed, will also be available on PDA. Imagine how much value this adds to your TripCheck.com listing, now that it can be easily accessed while travelers are driving Oregon’s highways!
Sign Data System Aids Customer Service
Providing great customer service is the number one priority of the TIC Sign Program. All staff are dedicated to providing top-notch service to every applicant. To help staff accomplish this goal, Luc Rizzo, Administrative Assistant & Database Technician, recently completed an upgrade and expansion to the sign inventory database, Cartegraph.
By keeping detailed customer information in a highly searchable format, Cartegraph helps TIC staff give great customer service by providing quick answers to questions. The system also helps staff schedule projects efficiently and plan for future sign replacements and cleaning.
Cartegraph stores a picture and an I. D. number for every sign in TIC’s inventory. Its mapping features allows TIC to create maps that show township, range, and section, highways, local roads, sign locations, ID numbers and much more, making it easier for the installation crew to pinpoint installations. Diane Cheyne, Sign Services Coordinator, uses the system to generate work orders for the TIC sign crew, Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Sign Maintenance Crews, installation contractors, and board manufacturers. Cartegraph also interacts with TIC’s customer database to produce letters, invoices and contracts. Diane can simply type in a customer or board I. D. number, and Cartegraph automatically fills in the blanks. This simple automation saves time and improves staff efficiency!
Cartegraph has been such an exceptional tool for TIC, it has attracted the attention of ODOT. Greg Stellmach, from ODOT’s Traffic Engineering and Operations section, recently met with Luc for a tutorial and research on how Cartegraph may help ODOT catalog their sign inventory.
To begin populating Cartegraph with all the details of the nearly 6,000 signs in TIC’s inventory, TIC hired Tom Halsey, a retired ODOT Sign Designer, to collect data in the field. Starting in the Portland area, Tom stops at every Gas, Food, Lodging, Camping, Attraction and Tourist Oriented Directional board and plaque, takes updated photos and GPS readings, ranks the condition of the boards and plaques, and checks for safety issues. Once the database is fully populated and customized, TIC will be able to forecast how to maintain boards and plaques and when and where to replace old, rotten wood or aluminum boards and faded, missing or damaged plaques.
In another enhancement to customer service, TIC is adding a fourth member to sign crew. The additional staff will allow for the expansion of TIC operations into regions previously outsourced to a contractor or ODOT. The additional crew member, combined with the current crew’s experience and work ethic, will ensure customer orders will be installed quickly.
Thanks to Luc, Tom, and the TIC crew for helping the Sign Program improve the speed, excellence, and reliability of service!
TIC Council Welcomes New Member Mike Drennan
Governor Kulongoski recently appointed Mike Drennan, Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer at Liberty Bank in Eugene, to serve on the Travel Information Council.
Mr. Drennan has served the visitor industry for many years through service on the Board of Directors of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, the Corvallis Area Chamber of Commerce, and through service to many banking clients in the hospitality industry. As an Oregonian who has worked and traveled all over the state, Mr. Drennan will contribute both state-wide and regional viewpoints to the Council. Welcome Mike!
Mr. Drennan succeeds Christina Lilienthal, US Forest Service, in the Public Member category at the expiration of her four year term of service. The Council wishes to extend a sincere thank you to Ms. Lilienthal for her service and commitment to the Council. Her experience with Scenic Byways and unique perspective will be missed. Best wishes and thank you Christina!
Jim Renner Appointed to National Committee
Jim Renner, Sign Operations Officer at Oregon Travel Information Council, was recently named to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) as a Technical Member. Mr. Renner will serve on the Guide and Motorist Information Signs Technical Committee of the NCUTCD.
One of the goals of this committee is to give input to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in establishing nationwide standards for traffic control devices, such as signs. Jim’s service on the committee will provide not only an Oregon perspective, but input from a tourism angle as well.
Jim has worked at the Oregon Travel Information Council since 1998 and oversees the agency’s four highway signs programs – Interstate Logo Signs, Off-Interstate Logo Signs, Tourist Oriented Directional Signs, and Museum and Historic Signs. TIC staff and Council members are proud of Jim and the recognition the nationwide industry has given him through this appointment. Good job Jim!
Welcome Center Staff Wear it Well!
TIC has a new way to help Welcome Center brochure customers get a little more exposure. Welcome Center staff and volunteers are wearing t-shirts provided by brochure customers as a way to give them a little extra visibility to travelers.
Welcome Center managers have been contacting brochure customers to request a few t-shirts. On Wednesdays and Fridays, staff wears the shirts from participating businesses. So far, response from participants has been great! The Brookings Welcome Center staff wore shirts from a jet boat business in Gold Beach on a Wednesday. By Friday, TIC had received an email from the business saying they had booked four trips with customer who reported they saw the Welcome Center staff wearing the shirts!
The shirts are a great way to introduce your business, location or attraction to potential new customers. If you are a Welcome Center brochure program participant and would like to participate, visit the TIC web site to find contact information for all 10 Welcome Centers.
Historical Marker Committee Member Blog: Bev Vogt
Oregon is a great state to explore. Because it seems that the main roads are getting more and more crowded, we can hardly wait to get off the beaten track and out into the more remote areas of the state. So after struggling through the traffic between Portland and Bend, it is a real treat to abandon busy Highway 97 south of LaPine and head off via Highway 31 to some really interesting, beautiful, and relatively uncrowded country.
Since we are both geologists, whenever we travel anywhere, we carry road and geologic maps, field trip guides, and other sources of information with us. We like to study both the present and past wherever we go. So one day a few years ago, after we had left Highway 97 for the much quieter Highway 31, what a treat it was to us when we saw a “Historical Marker Ahead” sign, screeched to a halt at the actual sign, and learned from that sign—the Fort Rock sign—about both the geologic and human history of this very significant area. I had heard about Fort Rock before but had never actually seen it. All of the sudden, there it was, like a dream—off in the distance beyond the sign. Fort Rock itself is interesting geologically because it is the result of an explosive eruption produced when rising magma encountered groundwater and exploded violently into a dynamic eruption that produced the round tuff ring that looks like a fort. The tuff ring was later eroded and actually breached by wave action of a large lake that was one of many lakes in this area during much wetter times after the last glaciation. As the lakes gradually dried up, Native Americans populated this fertile area, leaving all kinds of evidence, including the famous 9,000-year-old Fort Rock Cave sandal. Their story is still being studied today by archaeologists. Because of this Fort Rock marker, the casual passer-by learns about Oregon’s violent volcanic past, the existence of long-gone post-glacial lakes when the climate was different than it is today, and the story of Native Americans who have lived here for thousands of years. What an introduction to an area!!
When we first saw the sign several years ago, it was a battered, old, but well-written beaver board sign with the big wooden posts and carved-out lettering. We were so glad it was there! We learned so much from it. That old sign was replaced just this year with one of the newer style fiberglass panels that contains pictures, maps, and more information But the result is just the same—information for the traveler who wants to know more about the country he or she is visiting. These signs enrich all our lives. They help preserve bits of Oregon’s past and pass that information on to present-day travelers. And those of us who love Oregon think that is an excellent idea.