Five Questions for . . . Crystal Rhoades

16 Jan

Friday, January 20, the guest speaker for our monthly Coffee Chat will be Commissioner for the 2nd District of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, Crystal Rhoades.

We asked her five questions:

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?

I like to ride my bike and use public transit; admittedly, I do most of my transportation in a car.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?

Funding – lack of political will to put public transportation and multi-modal transportation on par with automobiles.

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?

I don’t know, probably the expansion of bike lanes, trails, and adding bike racks to buses.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?

I’m a horrible driver and would prefer to get places by any other mode.

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
Expanded public transit bus/streetcars/light rail and expanded trails.

The Top 10 Omaha-Area Transportation Stories of 2016

31 Dec

As we bring 2016 to a close, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on transportation-related accomplishments and challenges over the past year. Here are our top ten transportation stories:

1. Historic Buildings Saved from Parking Partisans

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Mode Shift board member Sarah J. rallying to Save the Specht

Thanks to the mobilization efforts of Restoration Exchange Omaha and Mode Shift Omaha, as well as your letter writing, testimonies, and rallying, Omaha Performing Arts announced last mid-February they would no longer pursue their efforts to acquire and then demolish three century-old buildings to create unnecessary parking to be constructed in their place. Our voices DO matter (at least sometimes)!

2. Victories for Bike Safety

There were some big wins across the state for bicycling this past year. One, thanks to the work of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, was the approval of LB 716, which gave people on bikes the same legal right of way in crosswalks as people on foot. The bill also eliminated an outdated mandatory side path provision that was in the statutes. The law went into effect on July 21, 2016. Also, kudos to Lincoln for being the first city in the state to implement a Curb-Protected Bike Lane in a core area of downtown Lincoln. Perhaps someday we’ll see the same in Omaha, such as the protected bike lane on Harney Street featured in the Transportation Master Plan? In the meantime, we’re grateful to the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation for getting the South Omaha Trail finished; this is a much-needed addition to enable a connected, safe riding route from the Keystone to midtown and downtown Omaha. Continue reading

ConAgra and the Riverfront — a turning point

13 Dec

After the announced contraction of the Omaha workforce in 2016, ConAgra began plans to expand its Old Market campus with acres of new parking. Back when the ConAgra campus was built, it tried to conceal parking lots into brick-faced structures and then built more than enough parking for all of its buildings.

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The  photo above shows the ground between ConAgra and the Harriman Dispatch Center of Union Pacific. This area used to have 21 trees and acres of green grass in a swale. Now there spreads an area prepared for pavement for 99 parking spaces, dedicating the land to only one purpose. Once this dedicated parking area is complete, ConAgra has three more construction permits filed with the City of Omaha to build three more parking expanses after this one on its Old Market campus.

The questions we have to ask: what are we doing; what do we want? Continue reading