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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?

Mayor

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

Safe Crossings at 72 & Dodge

5 Mar

72-dodge-2As part of the Omaha Safe Crossings project, one of the intersections Mode Shift Omaha has been focused on monitoring is 72 and Dodge Streets. This intersection is a major East/West and North/South thoroughfare so one of the busiest intersections in Omaha. At one time, this intersection had nice wide crosswalk markings and stop lines (indicating where cars should stop when the light is red), but these have long disappeared. Without these markings, motor vehicles typically stop for a red light far into the area meant for people walking across the street, making it unsafe, especially for those who are visually impaired.

About a year ago, advocates started making calls to the Mayor’s hotline and posting on the City Mobile App, asking for the crosswalks and stop lines at the intersection to be maintained—all to no avail. At a Mayor’s Town Hall last fall 2016, Cindy Tefft, a ModeShift member, asked the Mayor: if her main objective was Public Safety, why not maintain this intersection for pedestrian safety? Bob Stubbe, Public Works Director, answered the question and said the City only paints crosswalks east of 42 Street and around schools elsewhere (!). He also said the last pedestrian count for this intersection, done in April 2014, did not warrant maintaining the crosswalk. At that time, they counted 246 pedestrians using the intersection (this was before major changes made to bus routes last year and new businesses like Do Space opening). Continue reading

Bills to Support in the 2017 NE Legislature

30 Jan

There are two legislative bills currently in the Nebraska Legislature of interest to active and public transportation advocates. Please contact your state senator and the appropriate committee members designated below to express your support.

LB339 – Merge the Department of Aeronautics into the Department of Roads and rename as the Department of Transportation

Introduced by Senator Friesen at the request of the Governor.

Nebraska is currently the only state in the nation with a Department of Roads, rather than a Department of Transportation. Merging the Division of Aeronautics and the Department of Roads into a Department of Transportation would be a step in the right direction for enabling our state and local engineers to better meet the needs of all road users—people who drive cars, walk or bike. It might also open up more opportunities for funding and programs that will enable our state to better compete for businesses, and recruit young professionals and others attracted to places with great transportation infrastructure for all users.

The hearing for the bill took place on January 30.

Please write to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee chairperson, Curt Friesen, to let him know you want the committee to support this bill.

LB471 – Provide for enforcement of the prohibition against using a handheld wireless communication device as a primary action Continue reading