Next week, access from downtown Omaha directly to the Lewis and Clark Landing on the Missouri RiverFront will be shut off for two years. The only access will be from the airport road (Abbott Drive). A walking and biking route could have been open for easy access from town to The RiverFront Here’s how:
Back in 2012 the Omaha Transportation Master Plan identified as a vital project a connecting bridge from the North Omaha baseball stadium area eastward to the river and the Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge over the Missouri River. In 2014 the project made it into the city’s Capital Improvement Plan – which allocated funds for the project. We call this pedestrian bridge expansion the Baby Bob.
As you can see from this map, if the Baby Bob was constructed there would be access to the many riverfront amenities that so many enjoy: the Bob Bridge, the Lewis & Clark Trail HQ, the condos and Gallup offices. Yet now and through 2021 when The Riverfront revitalization construction closes the streets from Farnam and Douglas and Capitol Streets, no such access will be possible. The Baby Bob may be available in 2022 when the other routes to access The Riverfront will also be open. But for two years there is no direct access from downtown Omaha and no public transportation coordination.
By the way, the money for the Baby Bob Bridge has been available for 7 years – 7 years of planning and talking but no construction.
The city didn’t use its allocated funds for 7 years and now nothing will be open until 2022 – which is 9 years after funds were first put into the CIP.
AND the city wasn’t even mostly spending its Omaha tax money. Most of the money to do the project comes from private local funds. Of the $8.2 million total cost, $3.5 million (43%) will come from private local; $2.5 million (30%) will come from local taxes, and $2.1 million (25%) will come from federal non-roadway funds.
For comparison, $2.5 million of local transportation taxes get spent on just a block of noise walls along the speedways the city builds alongside the streets (highways) the city widens in West Omaha. How much does that noise wall benefit the citizens of Omaha versus access to The Riverfront?
- Lee Myers, Board Member
View from the Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge westward to 10th Street at the baseball stadium where the Baby Bob bridge would connect.