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Omaha - December 2008

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Omaha, NE — Another Look at Streetcars

Rail Transit Online, December 2008

The city council by a 4-3 vote on Nov. 25 approved $40,000 for a downtown streetcar study, the fourth undertaken in recent years. The money is part of a $350,000 appropriation for a new downtown master plan.

City Planning Director Steve Jensen told the council the study will examine potential ridership and financing issues and "...will help us determine if a streetcar makes sense." Heritage Services, a nonprofit group of community leaders, will supervise consultant HDR Inc., which will be hired to conduct the analysis.

Mayor Mike Fahey, who leaves office next June, is a strong streetcar supporter and sees the project as the first stage of an eventual regional light rail line between Omaha and Lincoln. "If, in fact, we have that connection through Omaha with a light rail system, it would merge all these cities," he told The World-Herald.

Former Mayor Hal Daub proposed a $50-million streetcar plan in 2003 but it failed to get council approval by just one vote. In 2006, an HDR study funded by Heritage Services of a 3.5-mi. (5.6 km) downtown streetcar circulator found that a loop between the Old Market district and Creighton University could help economically revitalize the area.

The same year, a contract with URS Corp. to continue studying ransportation options, including light rail, was approved by the Metro Area Transit board of directors.


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