Archive | Coffee chat RSS feed for this section

Five Questions for Jason Valandra

15 Feb

Energy policy is closely associated with transportation, so we would like to welcome Jason Valandra from Bold NE to be our February Coffee Chat guest, Friday, February 16, 8 a.m. at Spielbound, 3229 Harney Street.

Jason Valandra, Bold Organizer, is a proud Nebraskan and longtime supporter of Bold. Jason is thrilled to be part of the Bold team and has enjoyed working on projects such as the “Give Keystone XL the Boot” march and the ongoing Solar XL clean energy projects. Jason has over 20 years of professional event planning, sales and fundraising experience, and is passionate about volunteering regularly in his community to support local nonprofits and progressive causes in his hometown of Omaha, NE. A lifelong Democrat, he also serves as the Douglas County Democratic Central Committee Diversity Representative and the Nebraska Democratic Party Native Caucus Vice-Chair, working to bolster progressive politics, especially for Native communities. In his spare time, Jason can be found renovating his 1950s era North Omaha home, cooking with his wife, playing online video games, or discussing politics over coffee with friends. Jason is looking forward to the expansion of clean energy efforts, and will continue to advocate for growing the good life in Nebraska.

We asked him five questions . . .

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
Light rail would be awesome. I travel back and forth from Omaha to Lincoln and Omaha to Hastings pretty often. I would really like it if there was a public system in place to accommodate that.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
Lack of political will by leaders in Omaha. They fail to see the importance of this issue and how it effects our economy and growth as a city.

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
The implementation of ORBT seems like a move in the right direction. I hope it’s successful.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
My work with BOLD is to stop the KXL pipeline and end our dependency on fossil fuels. Part of our mission is to influence legislation and promote projects like light rail, more bike lanes, and government vehicles shifting to electric vehicles.

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
More self driving cars and car sharing programs. Would be nice to have to that available. Shared systems in place would be great. Especially when you consider the number of university and community college people we have in the city

5 Questions for Mike Helgerson

18 Jan
Mike Helgerson is the Transportation and Data Manager at Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. It is his job to lead the transportation planning process for the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area and Regional Planning Affiliation 18 (RPA-18); lead the administration of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and the development of the Long Range Transportation Plan; provide staff support in the development of the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP); oversee development and management of regional datasets and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He is also our guest for our first Coffee Chat of 2018 — Friday, January 19th at 8 a.m. in our usual haunt, Spielbound, located at 3229 Harney St.
We asked Mike Five Questions.

1 What is your preferred mode of transportation?
I end up driving my car most of the time, but love taking advantage of walking or biking to the bus during the week. Our family loves walking around our neighborhood in Benson to visit the library or grab a bite to eat when it’s not winter.

2 What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
Our development patterns are the biggest challenge. We need to take advantage of our opportunities to bring new people and jobs into the already developed areas of our community. This has the effect of making areas easier to serve with transit, and makes walking and biking more of a choice.

3 What, in your opinion, is the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I think the ORBT project is a tremendous opportunity to change perceptions and make the active, non-auto choice the easy choice. As a regional organization, its hard not to point to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge as a fantastic piece of bike infrastructure that brings Omaha and Council Bluffs together. Continue reading

The Chat: Omaha Infrastructure

22 Dec


This month’s Coffee Chat welcomed Nick Weander from the engineering and design firm Olsson Associates. Nick began his career as an intern with MAPA, worked as project manager and grants coordinator, and spent time as a regional planner in Tennessee. Nick was able to provided unique insights on the infrastructure differences between Lincoln, Omaha, and other communities, including the challenges of working intergovernmentally, varying tax authorities, and differences in land use development.

Attendees discussed current and future city projects, such as the 30th St. road diet, a 13th St. walkability study, the development of Dodge & 192nd St., and the future of the Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT) program. Weander noted the complexity of city infrastructure and encouraged participants to be engaged in political process – to build a coalition!

Join us for next month’s Coffee Chat on Friday, January 19th at Spielbound where Mike Helgerson from the Metro Area Planning Agency (MAPA) will discuss “How a Plan Becomes a Project.”