Transportation Projects: Who Decides?

24 May

As part of Mode Shift’s Transparency Campaign, Mode Shift members have set out to answer the following questions: Who decides which transportation projects go forward in Omaha? Who controls the funding? What is the public input?Who decides?

We suspected the process was complex and that the public had little input, and unfortunately, that’s what we found. In short:

    • The City Executive Branch (that is, the Mayor) largely controls the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which outlines the City’s transportation and other projects for the next 5 years.
    • Years 2-5 of the CIP can be molded by public opinion, but there is no formal process for public input. City Council members recommend requesting meetings in January or February to provide input.
    • The CIP is published in August for the following calendar year and is not easy to understand by the average citizen.

For those who want the details, see the Decision Diagram and Funding Diagram we put together for all the steps and entities involved in the CIP process.

What’s Next? The Map Machine:

How can we improve the process? We asked Mode Shift members, and they agreed, that the public could do more to influence the CIP process if certain information were available in a clear format:

  1. A map showing City Expenditures by mode (car, transit, bike, walk, etc), by neighborhood, by subdivision, and by acre. The would tell us if the city $ are being spread equitably. Something similar to this.
  2. A map showing City Street Projects in relation to the Transportation Master Plan.
  3. A map showing City Street Projects, by neighborhood, by type (widening, repave, etc), by year, by mode.
  4. A map showing Bike Corridors as designated, by year, by area.
  5. A map showing Tax Revenue, by neighborhood, by subdivision, by acre. When combined with (1), above, this would allow us to see if those who pay a lot also get a lot in return.
  6. And many other map ideas.

We believe that armed with these maps, the public could have more impact on the CIP decision process and then effect change for the better. We are in the planning stage of a project to deliver a “Map Machine” (see our artist’s concept diagram for details).Mode Shift Map Machine

This map machine will require resources beyond Mode Shift’s current budget. Grants may be available to support such a project, but we will need funds to plan the project and submit grant applications.

We need your support!

You can help us make our Map Machine a reality. Please give during Omaha Gives on Wednesday May 25 – You can make your donation here.

Each dollar you give through Omaha Gives! is partially matched and will go a long way in helping us show the gap between HOW our tax dollars are being used for transportation projects, and how they SHOULD be used.

 

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