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The Noise About Riverfront

17 Jul

All around town, there is a buzz around the plan for the riverfront. As something intended to physically unite the city around its downtown through a first-class urban riverfront, it has provided something for everyone… something to love, like, dislike, and generally question.

At ModeShift, the dialogue has been similar but first, let’s recap the proposal:

  • Stated intent: “Create a catalyst on the riverfront”
  • Physically and psychologically connect Downtown Omaha with the “riverfront” including Heartland of America Park, the Gene Leahy Mall, and Lewis and Clark Landing.
  • Completion by 2021

Lewis and Clark Landing

riverfront image A 

    • Connection to North Downtown by the “Baby Bob.” Proposed in CIP
    • Connection through proposed Capital Avenue Extension

Heartland of America Park: 

riverfront image B

    • Extends Douglas Street  for a better connection with Lewis and Clark Landing (vehicular way)
    • Extends Farnam Street as a pedestrian promenade that will terminate in a pier over the Missouri to provide a physical and visual connection to the river
    • Lawn bridge over the railroad between Farnam Street extension to Interstate 480 to provide a better connection to the river
    • Riverfront Trail (“Riverfront Promenade”)
    • Ice/Rollerblade Ribbon

Gene Leahy Mall

OM-RIV-HeartlandofAmericaPark-109

    • Sunken level, maintaining some water, from 11th Street Promenade to 8th Street
    • An 11th Street Pedestrian Promenade to provide a connection across the mall
    • Street level park from 11th Street Promenade to 13th Street
    • The surplus land from 13th to 14th Street is proposed for “future development, civic plaza, and future civic opportunity”
    • Theoretically, raising the mall to street level will make it easier for pedestrians to cross the space between Douglas and Farnam Streets

As there is more information contained in the plan than appropriate for a single blog post, there is much more information available on the project website: Riverfrontrevitalization.com/. Below are our thoughts on the proposal…

Pros:

  • $290M investment in the core of the city
  • Will likely result in major private market investment in the core of the city
  • Great cities have great downtowns and great urban parks and this seems like a step in the right direction
  • A complement to the ORBT and the potential streetcar (alignments and interactions should be incorporated into the design)
  • A strategic investment to physically and psychologically connect three disparate public spaces
  • The proposal includes several pedestrian and bicycle connections in the study area including missing links:
    • 11th Street Promenade on the Mall
    • Riverfront Promenade through Heartland of America Park and Lewis and Clark Landing to connect trail segments
    • An improved connection between the Gene Leahy Mall and Heartland of America Park
    • Better access to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Cons:

  • The Gene Leahy Mall is an iconic public space and meddling with it should not be done lightly.
  • The Gene Leahy Mall – today and in the future – is isolated by the adjacent street environments on Farnam and Douglas Streets and are not sufficiently addressed in the proposal. Both Farnam and Douglas Streets should be calmed to reduce vehicle speed, increase pedestrian and bicycle safety, and activate the streetscapes along the mall.
  • The proposal is likely over programmed which will likely threaten the user experience
  • The number of elements in the proposal will result in high maintenance costs and will likely lead to competition between event lawns within the project and with existing facilities such as Turner Park.
  • The lack of public involvement further reinforces a ‘pay to play’ form of community engagement.
  • People will continue coming downtown with their cars unless the city continues to invest to encourage transit ridership and to make the city safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

We wish for transparency moving forward and we will demand quality because the stakes are too high for Omaha.

 

Welcome our newest board members!

5 Jul

Last April we held our annual elections for new board positions. We had many apply and today we are happy to announce 4 new board roles for the upcoming cycle. Please join us in welcoming (list names alphabetically). Below are brief bios serving as a snapshot of their expertise and contributions to our board.

Derek Babb.JPG

Derek Babb
“I am a computer science teacher at Omaha North Magnet High School. I am passionate about equity in education and specifically CS education for all. My favorite form of transportation is bike and I ride as often as I can. I am also concerned about the fiscal consequences of our land use policy in Omaha and hope to make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly as well as more financially solvent.” Derek has a Bachelors degree in Secondary Education from UNL, a Masters in Mathematics from UNO and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Midland University.

John Cavanaugh headshot.jpg
Born and raised in Omaha, John Cavanaugh returned to Omaha in 2014 after living in Vermont and Washington D.C. John has a Law Degree and a Masters in Environmental Policy from Vermont Law School. He currently works as a criminal defense Attorney for indigent clients.

“I became interested in transportation as an environmental issue but have come to see it also as an economic justice issue. I want to help make Omaha a City that is livable for everyone regardless of Neighborhood or income.”

Crystal EdwardsCrystal Edwards
I have received all of my degrees from Nebraska institutions. A 1994 graduate of Ravenna Senior High School, I have long shown a passion for serving others through my work. Raised in the United Methodist tradition of social justice and trained at the University of Nebraska in sociology, I have studied the issues of inequality that divide us and sought out the connections to bring us together. As a high school student I engaged in service and as a college student I learned through service.

In 2005, I received a PhD from University of Nebraska Lincoln and now as an adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska Omaha, I encourage service through community research. Currently, I host a website sharing student driven sociological research about Omaha called the Omaha Social Project. I encourage everyone to spend time sociologically exploring Omaha. I love to walk and I wish that I felt more inspired to do that in Omaha. I feel that the overwhelming preference for cars, and the unusual feeling of anonymity and power it provides to drivers makes it difficult for anyone to enjoy the city who isn’t driving through it. I will avoid walking if it means crossing busy thoroughfares and I really despise this so I am choosing to make Omaha a more walkable place. We must encourage alternatives for transportation because it will improve our overall lifestyle and reduce our costs and the alternatives should be fun and creative. I joined Mode Shift to put my back into it.

nickklimekNick Klimek
Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Nick came to Omaha by way of Ottumwa, Iowa where he led the city’s planning and development department. He now works as a community planning consultant helping cities throughout the Midwest to address their issues and capitalize on their opportunities. “I got involved in ModeShift because the form the city’s transportation network is important – it will dictate how residents of Omaha will live and how the city will function for decades to come.”

 

Take Transit to Castlepalooza

31 May

 

If you’re planning on attending Castlepalooza this weekend (June 2, 4-10pm), keep in mind that there will be limited automobile parking at the event (duh! The Castle and the surrounding neighborhood predate widespread automobile ownership).

No worries, there are other options.

First, you can definitely ride your bike. A bike valet will be available and there is a historic bike tour of significant residences in the area. Be sure to have your lights charged up if you plan to ride home after dark.

You can also ride the bus to the Castle. Joslyn Castle is located at the convergence of a number of bus routes convenient to most parts of the city served by Metro. Below are some suggested routes from the major transit hubs. NOTE: all times are approximate. For routes and times specific to your location, we recommend using the transit option in Google Maps.

From North Omaha Transit Center

Best route from the NOTC (30th Street, one block south of Ames) is going to be Route 3 toward Metro CC South Campus. Buses run every 30 minutes on the 15s and 45s until 7:15p.m. and then on the hour. Disembark at 40th and Davenport where the Castle is on the northeast corner.

Returning buses arrive at 40th and Davenport also every half hour on the 21s and 51s until 8:21 p.m. Last bus is at 10:21 p.m.

From South Omaha Transit Center

If you are starting at the SOTC (Located on the south side of Metro Community College’s South Campus. 30th and Edward Babe Gomez Ave.) the best option is also Route 3, heading northbound. Buses depart every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of the hour until 8 p.m. when they are hourly until 10 p.m. Take the 3 to the intersection of 40th and Davenport.

Returning buses can be caught at the west side of 40th and Davenport at 05s and 35s until 7:35, when it is hourly. The last southbound bus to the the SOTC will pass the castle at approximately 10:35 p.m.

Benson

To get to the Castlepalooza from Benson, catch Route 4 at 60th and Maple. Saturday schedule for that stop is every 30 minutes on the 26s and 56s until 8:56 p.m. Ride to 40th and Cuming and walk south on 40th Street to the Castle at Davenport (approx. 10 min.). If the half mile walk is more than you’re able to walk, you can cross to the northwest corner of 40th and Cuming and transfer to Route 3 which will take you directly to 40th and Davenport. You must purchase your transfer when you board the bus at 60th and Maple.

To return to Benson, you’ll need to time your departure from the Castle to account for the walk back to 40th and Cuming. The westbound bus stop is on the northeast corner of the intersection. The bus runs every 30 minutes on the 25s and 55s until 8:25 when it runs hourly. Last bus is at 10:25. If you are taking Route 3 back to 40th and Cuming, please note that the gap between the two routes is very narrow, and you will need to purchase a transfer when you board at 40th and Davenport.

Westroads

The easiest route from the Westroads Transit Center (located at the northwestern edge of the Westroads site) is Route 2. This bus departs, eastbound every 20 minutes on the 05s, 25s and 45s until 5:45 p.m. when it switches to every 30 minutes on the 15s and 45s. Ride to 40th and Dodge and walk the 1 block north to the Castle.

For your return ride, catch the westbound Route 2 at the northeast corner of 40th and Dodge. The route is every 20 minutes until 5:21 when it switches to every 30 minutes on the 21s and 51s.

Aksarben

The most direct route from Aksarben Village to catch Route 15 at the intersection of 67th and Center. The bus leaves Bergan Mercy every 30 minutes on the 21s and 51s (until 6:51 p.m. when it goes hourly) and should arrive at Aksarben shortly thereafter. Ride the bus to 40th and Farnam and walk the three blocks north to the Castle.

On the return trip, catch the westbound bus at 40th and Farnam. Bus runs every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of the hour until 7:30 p.m. when it runs hourly.

Downtown

Coming from Downtown, the most convenient route is Route 2. The bus departs 11th and Dodge every 20 minutes on the 15s, 35s and 55s until 5:15 p.m. when it operates every 30 minutes. Get off the bus at 40th and Dodge and walk one block north to the Castle.

Return trip catch the eastbound bus at the southwest corner of 40th and Dodge. Bus runs every 20 minutes on the 04s, 24s and 44s until 6:04 when it operates every 30 minutes.

Reminders

Check the weather before riding the bus and make sure you are dressed appropriately. Before boarding the bus, make sure you have everything you need for the trip, including hydration, sun screen, etc. Metro buses operate in traffic with all other vehicles, so departure and arrival times are approximate (public, real time bus tracking cannot get here fast enough!) so allow for a waiting window around the scheduled times.

We are looking forward to seeing you all at the Castlepalooza!