Omaha transportation's $7.4B future: Planners envision widened Interstates, expanded public transit
Jeffrey Robb / World-Herald staff writer wrote:Notably, the study looking out to 2040 would rebuild the Interstate through the metro area. It would widen Interstates 80, 480 and 680 — a difficult prospect for a highway that’s all but maxed out.
But alongside that, transportation planners say Omaha needs a significant expansion of its public transit system. The report, an effort by the Nebraska Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, proposes to focus 40 percent of the costs on transit.
The leading ideas include:
» Widening the Interstate almost throughout. An idea under consideration is to divide each side of the Interstate into two parts: one set of outside lanes that has access to local interchanges, as the freeway exists now, and an inner set of lanes that runs uninhibited through the city, without that local access, said Greg Youell, MAPA’s executive director.
It’s a concept being implemented in Iowa’s reconstruction of Interstate 80 through Council Bluffs.
» Establishing an Interstate interchange around 180th to 192nd Street in Sarpy County near Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, then widening a north-south route to four lanes to connect with that new interchange.
» Widening major streets such as West Maple Road, South 72nd and 84th Streets, and Dodge Street between 72nd and 84th.
Omaha also has decisions to make about its mass transit system.
The report proposes spending almost $3 billion over time on Omaha’s transit system. Some of that funding exists already in operations and maintenance costs, but the area also will need some $1.1 billion for new capital costs, the report estimates, as it builds projects including new feeder lines into the Dodge Street bus rapid transit system and a midtown Omaha streetcar.