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When More is Not Nearly Enough: Pothole Season Edition

29 Jan

During the last race for Mayor of Omaha, an undisputed detail of the state of the city’s transportation infrastructure is that we, as a city, are more than a half century behind schedule resurfacing our vehicle lanes.  And the breakdown of vehicle lanes leads to our annual vehicle lane issue of winter potholes. Mayor Stothert recognizes that the resurfacing backlog is an issue that requires action. She has nearly doubled the budget for resurfacing projects in her time in office from $6.6 million to $12 million.

In her first term, Mayor Stothert reports that she spent $44.6 million resurfacing 400 lane miles throughout the city. That roughly works out to 100 lane miles per year at a cost of $111,500 per lane mile. According to public works, the city currently maintains 4823 lane miles throughout the city. A well maintained road should last approximately 20 years, depending on environmental conditions and use. Let’s look at the math and see where we end up.

First, if we are only resurfacing 100 lane miles per year, it will take 48 years to resurface all the lanes currently being maintained by the city. That’s well beyond the expected useful life of our streets. But let’s assume the demand for resurfacing continues at a consistent rate, and we are going to resurface on the anticipated schedule of every 20 years. The 4823 lane miles multiplied by the $111,500 per lane mile cost gives us a total of $537,764,500 to resurface all the current lanes. To meet the goal of resurfacing all the lanes every 20 years (and assuming a consistent rate of demand) we would need to be spending $26,888,225 every year, or more than twice the current budget. And these numbers only account for resurfacing; some roads will need to be entirely replaced at a higher cost per lane mile. Continue reading

The Transparency Project: Part 4 – What Are the CIP Projects? Where Are They?

8 May

This is the fourth post from the Transparency series, following the steps of the Mode Shift CIP game board. We continue our study of the City of Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), with a look at these questions:

  • What are the CIP transportation projects?
  • Where are they located?

What are the CIP Projects?

Mode Shift’s CIP database classifies the projects by Work Type:

  • Automobile Capacity – Projects that add lanes of automobile traffic or otherwise allow more automobile capacity.
  • Automobile Infrastructure – Replacement of automobile infrastructure that has reached its end of life, without any increase to automobile capacity.
  • Transit – Improvements to the public transit system. These projects have no City funds and are not run by the City, so perhaps they don’t belong in the CIP. But the BRT project is in the CIP, so we are including it as well.
  • Streetscape – Improvements to a street front such as wider sidewalks, bump out at street crossings, better lighting, and bicycle parking.
  • Pedestrian – Improvements for pedestrian traffic, such as ADA compliant sidewalks, foot bridges, etc.
  • Cycling – Improvements to cycling routes such as protected lanes, painted lanes, signage, etc.
  • Other – Green street corridor study and master plan, and city-wide safety projects.

In all cases, it is the driver behind the project that dictates the category. So if a widening project also replaces aging infrastructure, adds ADA compliant sidewalks and access to a cycling trail, it is considered an Automobile Capacity project, because none of the other improvements would occur if not for the driving desire to widen the street. Mode Shift relied on the CIP project descriptions to apply the Work Type to each project.

The $322 million of Capital Budget spanning from 2017 to 2022 is split as follows:

Continue reading

Our Analysis of the Mayoral Candidates

3 May

We are pleased so many issues relevant to transportation have been included in the mayoral debates and forums over the past several weeks. We’ve come a long way in these discussions since four years ago! Policies and practices implemented by the Mayor’s office obviously have a profound effect on our ability to achieve our vision and mission.

That is why we wanted to take this opportunity to summarize some of the key policy and practice areas that have been up for discussion and debate. These all play an important role in whether or not Omaha can be a city with a great, equitable, and affordable transportation system; where anyone can safely and efficiently get to where they need to go whether they own a car or not.

Please weigh these issues and do your own investigating (including reading responses to our questionnaire) and then VOTE on May 9. The future of our city is in the hands of you, the Omaha voter.

Growth and the Transportation System

The two candidates could not be more different on their approach to city growth, which plays an essential role in our ability (or not) to create a connected and viable multi-modal transportation system. Continue reading