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Candidate Questionnaire Responses for the 2017 Omaha City Election

20 Mar

Candidates Questionnaire Responses

We invited all qualified candidates for city offices to respond to our questionnaire about transportation issues facing the city. We present their responses here in the order they were received. We have not edited the responses and only adjusted the formatting where necessary for online presentation.

1. What are Omaha’s most pressing transportation needs? If elected, how would you address these needs?


Ean Mikale (EM): Transportation currently is hindering job growth, accessibility to health and human services, and overall functionality as a growing metropolis.

Jean Stothert (JS): I believe Omaha’s most pressing transportation needs are addressing the backlog of street resurfacing and repair work and enhancing public transportation, especially in our downtown and urban core.

To address these needs, my vision is to provide reliable, safe, efficient and well-managed transportation systems that move residents, employees, and commerce across a wide variety of transit modes.  These modes include bicycles, pedestrian traffic, automobiles, commercial trucking, public transit buses, and related modes such as bus and train travel.  High quality transportation and related infrastructures are critical for a growing city like ours to provide a system that stimulates commerce and everyday living.

The City of Omaha will soon have doubled the amount of funding dedicated to street resurfacing and repair since I first took office four years ago.  We are actively engaged in supporting the Metro Transit Bus Rapid Transit System project, expanded bike-sharing programs, and improving parking.

In addition, Omaha is growing to the point where a modern street car system makes sense.  Although years from completion, it will further develop our urban core, reduce traffic congestion, and connect Omaha’s most popular venues.

Proper maintenance and expansion of the Interstate Highway System that runs throughout Omaha and connects us to neighboring communities is critical to residential and commercial transport.  Recent funding from the Build Nebraska Act directed to Omaha projects that include portions of I-80, I-680, and I-480 have been critical to this objective.

Heath Mello (HM): Since I announced in August 2016, I have stated that for us to build the Omaha of the future we must focus on creating a modern transportation system that allows any resident regardless of where they live to move around Omaha without a car. My vision includes a citywide light rail system that incorporates bus-rapid transit, existing OMetro bus lines, ridesharing (Uber and Lyft), and a dramatic expansion of bicycling lanes and trails to connect our city.

Christopher N. Geary Did not respond
Taylor Royal Did not respond Continue reading

Five Questions for . . . Julie Reilly

13 Mar

As the executive director of Omaha by Design, Julie Reilly has some insight into the relationship between transportation and the built environment. We are pleased to have her as our guest speaker at this Friday, March 17th, Coffee Chat at 8:15 a.m. at Accelerando Coffee House in the Omaha Conservatory of Music. We asked her five questions.

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?

Walking….whenever I can.

I also love to drive, though. The coordination of a human being with the mechanics and engineering of an automobile and the physics and character of the physical environment is pretty amazing. It’s something most people don’t think about but it’s complex and fascinating and fun. Continue reading

Five Questions for . . . Pell Duvall

14 Feb

This Friday, February 17,  we welcome one of our own board members as our Coffee Chat guest speaker. Pell Duvall is the executive director of Omaha Bikes,  a non-profit that “advocates for improved transportation, utility, and recreational bicycling infrastructure, opportunities, and experiences for the people of Omaha, Nebraska and the surrounding area.” We asked him five questions.

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
Although, I’d prefer to ride a dragon, my orange  steel cross bike is next favorite.

2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
Perception of safety. We have a great and growing bike network and many encouraged active transportation users, but we don’t yet have protected bike lanes streets, real-time bus notifications, or safe, complete pedestrian infrastructure. We have connected routes, great encouragement programs, and great supporting organizations, but we lack the ‘next step’ in active transportation development which is encouraging the 60% ‘Interested, but concerned’ population. A 2015 ULI study shows that 52% of Americans would like to live in a place where they do not need to use a car that often, and I don’t think it’s coincidence that those percentages are very similar.

3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I’m going to say it’s a tie between the Live Well Omaha Commuter Challenge and Heartland B-cycle.

4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
I began commuting by bicycle in 2007 when I was encouraged by my employer (a 60 year old eye doctor) who commuted over 30 miles per day most work days. I moved to Omaha in 2008 and participated in group rides, the commuter challenge, and attended MSO meetings. From there, I headed a steering committee in 2013 to revitalize Omaha Bikes. Somehow the stars aligned, and I was given an opportunity to become Omaha Bikes’ first employee!

5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
Presuming that switching all transportation dragon flying is not a viable option, I would design roadways that connect key attraction, resource, and employment centers that follow the most efficient course. As co-chair of the Bike Omaha Network Committee, we are challenging area planners to think in desire lines i.e. where you would put a road that doesn’t exist yet!
pellPell Duvall received a Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Truman State University and is a League Certified Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. He has worked in healthcare and business project management prior to joining Omaha Bikes as Executive Director.