Archive | Street Design RSS feed for this section

The Chat: Omaha Infrastructure

22 Dec

IMG_0702

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.”

Advocacy in Action Follow Up at 52nd and Radial

4 Dec

Following Mode Shift’s recent videos and action about the issues with the intersection at 52nd Street and Northwest Radial Highway, the City has:

  • Started to paint the crosswalk. The next scheduled painting was Spring 2018, so it’s good to see some action now.
  • Initiated a change to the pedestrian signal system. Thanks to Bryan Guy, at Omaha Public Works for taking the time to look at the signal and reply to one of the signal issues.

Crosswalk Painting on November 21

This is good news. Once we know the extent of the City’s action, we will recap which issues are still open, and engage the City to discuss them.

In the meantime, here is a email sent to Carrie Murphy, Omaha’s Deputy Chief of Staff by Faith. Faith and her family attended the evening advocacy on November 14, and summarizes the events so well, that her email is worth sharing:

Hello Carrie, Thank you for your reply.

I know the mayor is busy, and I appreciate the staff’s attention. I would like to respond to several points made in this press release:

Perhaps the crosswalks are painted twice a year; perhaps they are painted 4, 5, or 6 times a year. In the end, however, the crosswalks are barely visible year-round. I am at that intersection at least twice a week year round and daily in the summer and you can barely ever see the paint. I will be happy to send pictures, but you can go there yourself or you can look at the photo published today in the World-Herald, which shows minimal paint. If they are being painted, they clearly need to be painted more often or more effectively.

As the Mode Shift video pointed out, crossing 52nd on the north is terrifying because there’s no clear line for the cars to stop. When I have my daughter in her stroller, we usually have to cross behind cars because they are pulled so far into the intersection. The same is true for the west side of the intersection, where cars regularly stop so far into the intersection that we end up crossing behind them. When we are able to cross in front of stopped cars, it is on me as the pedestrian to make glaring eye contact with each motorist in the hopes that they see me, because they’re certainly not looking for me. Continue reading

Better Block Ottumwa

4 Dec

This is from our friend, Nick Klimek, AICP

In October of 2017, I had the opportunity to help the community of Ottumwa, Iowa build a better block in its downtown. More specifically, an official “Better Block” – the national movement that seeks to redesign the public environment through temporary interventions. The interventions may only last a few days, but with the hope that they serve to empower and inspire participants, community leaders, and property owners to immediate and sustained action.

My professional career began in Ottumwa, Iowa – first as city planner, then planning director – and allowed me the opportunity to aide a dedicated group of downtown advocates on the pathway to revitalize downtown Ottumwa; at the time, a task considered unattainable. Much progress has been completed since then (a new business incubator/downtown market, rehabilitated storefronts, and dozens of new apartments above the storefronts) but one question remained: how much more could be done without the millions of dollars needed to improve the street?

Main Street Ottumwa offered a solution – to use temporary interventions to transform the former highway corridor into the environment that its stakeholders want and need. Through a partnership with Main Street Iowa, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the community hired Better Block to lead the community in its transformation. Upon hearing of this project, I knew I had to be part of it.

I arrived back in Ottumwa on a Thursday morning to a sea of volunteers eager to help. We learned of the plan: to install protected bike lanes; install landscaped bump-outs and pedestrian crossings; arrange trees and flowers; install chairs, benches, and bike racks; design and set up three temporary businesses in vacant buildings; create public art installations; and to create a community event space. Quite ambitious for a days’ work. Continue reading