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Five Questions For Nick Weander

11 Dec

We wanted to get to know a bit more about what is happening in Sarpy County, so we invited Nick Weander from Olsson Associates to be the guest speaker for our December Coffee Chat, Friday, December 15, 2017 at 8 a.m. at Spielbound, 3229 Harney Street.

Nick is a certified professional transportation planner with experience in local, regional and statewide transportation programs. Mr. Weander has shown to be a problem solver with experience in developing and managing complex, multi-jurisdictional projects and programs. Nick’s proven experience in building relationships and fostering trust between local, state, and federal agencies and the public at large. Nick is a 2008 graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and completed his Master of Public Administration at UNO in 2011. Since leaving UNO, Nick has worked for the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and now works as a Senior Planner at Olsson Associates. Current projects of note include the 30th Street Road Diet in Omaha, the Lincoln Transportation Implementation Strategy, and the 180th/192nd Street Grade and Alignment Study in Sarpy County.

We asked him five questions . . .

What is your preferred mode of transportation?

On the days that I am able, I prefer to walk to work. I can generally make that happen about 3 days a week. Project meetings, client visits, out of town work and other responsibilities often require me to have a car at my disposal.

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

Land use patterns and residential decision-making. Transportation (especially trip distance) should be a part of your consideration about where you live and work. I’m fortunate enough to live and work in a mixed use development here. We really need to do a better job of explaining/educating these trade-offs as a part of how people decide where to live and work. Continue reading

Local Coffee Chat Brings State Representation

21 Nov


This month’s Coffee Chat welcomed representatives for Nebraska State Senators Kari Ridder (Sasse) and Dusty Vaughn (Fischer). Attendees participated in a lively discussion about our city and state transportation issues. Both Ridder and Vaughn agreed that infrastructure is a priority for Nebraska, and noted the effects of transportation on our economy and quality of life. While a great deal of funding may come at the federal level, both guests noted the importance of solving issues at the local level and commented on the importance of collaboration between existing systems.

Ridder and Vaughn encourage citizens to provide input to their government representatives – our civic leaders need the public’s input, so please keep bringing issues to their attention! Contact Ben Sasse & Deb Fischer with your transportation input.

Join us for our December Coffee Chat with Nick Weander from Olsson Associates.

Five Questions for Dusty Vaughn

15 Nov

We are pleased to welcome the state directors of Nebraska’s Senatorial Delegation as the guests at our November Coffee Chat, this Friday, November 17, 8 a.m. at Speilbound – 3229 Harney St, Omaha.

Dusty Vaughan has been the State Director for U.S. Senator Deb Fischer since 2013 where he oversees her state offices.  He also worked for Fischer all 8 of her years in the Nebraska Legislature, with 6 of those as her legal counsel on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

Vaughan received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He is a native of Omaha, where he currently resides with his wife Julie and four children.

We asked Dusty five questions . . .

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
In an ideal world, I like to jog.  For practical purposes though, I use my personal vehicle.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
I would say cost is the greatest challenge.  Until a long-term solution presents itself, the federal highway trust fund will continue to face a funding shortfall.  The state has improved its funding in recent years with the Build Nebraska Act and the Transportation Innovation Act.  At the local level, from an outsider’s perspective Omaha does the best it can with the limited resources that are available.

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I’m not sure about the greatest, but a recent success story was Metro Transit Authority receiving the first federal TIGER grant in Nebraska to develop the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.  Metro received the grant due to its creative approach to support the city’s growth and provide additional options for residents who lack mobility.  It was a great win for public transit in this state.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
Transportation is something we all deal with on a daily basis so we all have an interest in it.  I really became passionate about it during my time working as legal counsel for the Legislature’s Transportation & Telecommunications Committee.  Having an integral part in the development of the state’s statutory transportation policy was something that was professionally satisfying.

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
If money was no object, my personal opinion is an East-West light rail system would be ideal.  We have seen what that type of system brings to the economic development of other cities.  As Omaha continues to face a westward expansion, it will become more difficult to keep the connectedness and “small-town” feel that makes Omaha unique.  I believe a light rail system would keep east and west connected.