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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

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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.”

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