By: Curtis Bryant
The Metro Area Planning Agency”s Heartland 2050 Regional Vision points out that the Omaha metro’s population is likely to nearly double to 1.5 million by about 2050 and wisely asks where all these people will live and work and how they will get around.
A few weeks ago, IBM proposed an answer: Omaha’s urban core. Among other things, the company’s Smarter Cities Challenge study of Omaha says that Omaha’s tendency to grow westward in suburban developments will be increasingly costly and that promoting Omaha’s urban development would be more cost-effective. Another recommendation is raising property taxes in suburban areas to better reflect the true, higher cost of providing necessities such as police and fire protection, sewers, streets and street maintenance, public schools, libraries, and parks in suburban areas.
We need to get ready for our metro area’s phenomenal growth now. One way to do this is to create more viable transportation choices. I don’t want to suffer streets clogged by almost twice as many motor vehicles as today. We can create a future in which we can enjoy all our metro offers without always having to drive.
Besides the financial wisdom of doing so, making walking, cycling, and transit easier, safer, and more practical increases our freedom of choice. I love taking advantage of these options and want others to feel free to enjoy them also. Even people that don’t use these options benefit when others do from the reduced congestion and pollution and from the economic growth that tends to result from greater transportation choice.
Please tell your City Council member and anyone who will listen that you want to enjoy the benefits of expanded transportation options.