Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles (and Streetcars!).

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Zephyr
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Official: Omaha Streetcar Discussion

Postby Zephyr » Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:34 pm

I have developed plans for 4 streetcar lines:
- 10th St./Park Line - Starter Line
- Ak-Sar-Ben Line
- Dundee Line
- Riverview Line

Check out the maps at:
http://www.skyscraperpage.com/forum/sho ... adid=48119
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jlocatis
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Postby jlocatis » Thu Jul 08, 2004 12:25 am

Wait a minute, on your page you say:

"The "10th St./Park Line - Starter Line" is already underway, will start construction within 3-6 months, and should be opened within 12-18 months."

Is this true?

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Postby Zephyr » Thu Jul 08, 2004 2:19 am

Yes, that's true. It's been undergoing negotiations with the Planning Department and Mayor's Office, who all seem to be surprisingly excited about the project (probably because it's being financed privately). Once the plan is approved by the City Council, which should be relatively soon, the fundraising can begin.
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Postby Minneapolis Boy » Thu Jul 08, 2004 9:05 am

Excellent! I'm glad to see that ideas are starting to move forward. Minneapolis just began service on a large portion of its' Hiawatha Line. I'm glad Omaha is moving in the direction of streetcar/light rail transit.

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Postby eomaha » Thu Jul 08, 2004 9:23 am

Eric... are you serious?! Has Steve A. really secured money for this project???

Be sure to tell him if he needs any web support... I'm here for him (free of any costs of course).
Last edited by eomaha on Thu Jul 08, 2004 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby jsheets » Thu Jul 08, 2004 11:18 am

I like your plans and layout, making it quite an interesting and exciting project. I hope that your ideas get more exposure and good investment from the community and local leaders. I'm also intrigued by your street track layout design. It reminds me of what is used in Amsterdam, and is a system that seems to work very well with both pedestrian and automobile traffic. It was amazing to see the cars running without the huge fences around it like in St. Louis, and how much more aesthetic they were to the local environment.

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Postby Coyote » Thu Jul 08, 2004 9:12 pm

This is excellent news.
I hope he can get the financing he needs.
So how will this affect the 10th St bridge?
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Postby Guest » Sat Jul 10, 2004 12:10 pm

Zephyr,

Gotta tell you that streetcar project of yours is the coolest thing ever. Haven't heard of it before now and since this seems to be the only source of information I've run across online, can you direct me to where I could find some more information like back issues of the WH, or Omaha.com, etc.

thanks much,

Matt

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Postby DTO Luv » Fri Aug 20, 2004 4:06 pm

This topic has been kind of quiet. Are their any new developments Zephyr?
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Postby Zephyr » Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:33 pm

No news that I know of... last I heard the project was to go in front of the City Council next, which was supposed to be sometime this summer.

Every time I want info from the "powers that be" about the status of the project, I usually have to send more than one email or phone call, even then only about half of my questions get answered, and sometimes I get silly, sarcastic responses. And whenever I offer my help to them, I get shunned. So I have kind of quit following the whole deal. I figure if there is any BIG news (like track construction), I'll see it or read it in the OWH.
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Postby Rob » Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:01 pm

Eric-

That's too bad that you have received such negative feedback from the "higher-ups". I guess they really don't realize how much they could actually learn from you. No one else in the metro stays as current as you on the issues of rail transportation.

You actually have an understanding of rail transportation regionally and nationally, and have attended conferences pertaining to this issue as well as studied it in University. We all know your passion cannot be exceeded.

I'm certain that it won't be long before these "higher-ups" will be the ones asking you for permission to proceed. Keep up the good work Eric!
"It is never too late to be what you might have been." - George Eliot

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Postby Coyote » Mon Aug 23, 2004 7:15 pm

Amen!
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Postby Zephyr » Mon Aug 23, 2004 7:48 pm

Thanks guys, I appreciate your kind words. Don't get me wrong, I really admire all that Mr. Anderson is trying to do, but I really think this project needs to be in the hands of someone with the experience and knowledge of rail transit systems (I am still working on the experience part). Our first streetcar system should be done right to ensure success for future expansions - I don't think I can empahsize that enough.
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Tue Aug 24, 2004 4:10 pm

Exactly right, Eric.

I mean, I also appreciate that Steve is putting effort into this, but I think he's looking at it as too much of a novelty tourist thing, whereas people like you and me have higher standards of mass transportation in mind. The fact that I want him to succeed with this project is more a reflection of my desperation that Omaha needs to get a rail transit system, than it is a reflection of my approval of the project.
"The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city."
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Postby DTO Luv » Tue Aug 24, 2004 5:37 pm

I was DT today looking at apartments today in the Kennsington and Orpheum Tower and another building across from 1600 Farnam and got to thinking about how I would be getting around DT. Lets say I did live there now. I could walk to the OM w/o much trouble. But if I wanted to go to the Q or any of the riverfront parks that might warrant a car every now and then. Let's not forget that Omaha is extremely hilly. Even if you walk one block the elevation can change drastically. Those of you who have walked between 13th to 18th will know what I mean. If they can get a system DT that requires people in the area not to need a car everyday then other areas of town would catch onto the idea of rail transit. I never realized how many places their are to live DT or how many people will live down there once even more places open up. The idea of rail DT should be enacted. It will add to people living in the core of the city and also give Omaha a more progressive image.

I don't know how this sounds, but could a transit center or rail stop be connected to a grocery store? That would be a big boon to the DTO area. Central High School would be a logical stop. If it could carry kids to school from more outlying areas than it would also boost the need for more rail options outside of DT. It is also right next door to the Joslyn so it could be part of the tourist loop too.
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Postby Zephyr » Wed Aug 25, 2004 1:49 pm

So I have been doing some pondering, and thought up what I perceive as a much better alternative to the Gallup/Lewis & Clark alignment:

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Pros:
- Does not cross freight railroad tracks east of 8th St. near Lewis & Clark Landing
- Reuses old Pierce Street Carbarn
- Terminates in high-density neighborhood at 11th & Pierce at the south, instead of a non-active museum
- Terminates in a future high-density neighborhood in North Downtown at the north, instead of an 8-5 corporate campus
- Catalyst for North Downtown development
- Still serves Old Market, Qwest, and hotels
- Serves the Burlington Station
- Potential to reach more businesses ($$) and have greater ridership

Changes:
- Double-track, street-running down 10th Street, as opposed to wiping out street-side parking
- Would serve as a "Central Corridor" for future potentail extensions to Midtown, Dundee, Benson, North O, and Rosenblatt/Zoo
- Could use either heritage trolleys (initially) or modern streetcars, but built for modern commuter transit purposes, not touristy
- Lower fare than $1.50! and built with the idea that it may not turn a profit, but operated as nonprofit
- Capital cost would be greater - 2-4X as much as the $7 million proposal

Still needs to be examined:
- Ridership and origin-destination study, conducted by a consulting firm with previous streetcar experience (URS, HDR), to determine exact routing alignment and location of stations.
- Community decides it - public participation a must from the get-go, not an exact plan that the public amends, like what MAT scrupulously does.
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Postby DTO Luv » Wed Aug 25, 2004 1:59 pm

Zephyr,

Have you talked to anyone at UP about funding? It seems the biggest name in RAILroads could sponsor the project and even give the it more of a connection to the city of Omaha. Other companies have done things to spruce up DT. First National had their sculpture gardens and maybe UP could get their names on the trains/streetcars.
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Postby Zephyr » Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:58 pm

DTO Luv, I don't think UP is in a position to donate a large amount of money to a streetcar project - they are too busy figuring out how to run their own railroad again.

I heard from Mr. Anderson today, who gave me some positive news and actually asked for MY help! Nothing significant, though. It seems things have slowed down some, the Memo of Understanding with the City was just finished, and the issue will be in front of the City Council sometime soon. It seems that interest is building among the business community. The Electric Railway Journal recently published an article about the project:
http://www.trolleycar.org/observations/040510.asp
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Postby Zephyr » Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:51 pm

Aaron (Streets of Omaha) and I have been working on this for well over a month now, and with outstanding help from Jeff, our website is finally ready to be released. Check it out:
http://www.omahastreetcar.com

We will hopefully hold our first organizational meeting by the end of this year, or at least early next year. The Steering Committee is still ironing things out, so check the website for updates. Aaron and I envision this organization as being the catalyst for future streetcar lines, such as the one pointed out in the Destination Midtown study.
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Postby Coyote » Mon Nov 08, 2004 7:20 pm

Great site!

Good Luck guys!
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Postby Swift » Sun Jan 30, 2005 11:35 pm

Hey what's new with you guys?

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Postby projectman » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:03 pm

Looks good!

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Postby Zephyr » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:39 am

Nothing really new yet... we are in the process of incorporating the organization and getting our official 501(c)3 designation. We are planning to have displays and handouts for the Midtown forums this spring and I hope to update the website some more soon.

Perhaps something noteworthy that hasn't been said here before: our primary purpose has been decided to promote the Midtown Streetcar Line, Phase 1 of which runs from UNMC to downtown via Farnam/Harney and Phase 2 would extend further west to Ak-Sar-Ben/UNO.

And our new email is omahastreetcar@gmail.com if anyone has any questions.

Here's to streetcars and planned growth for Omaha!
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:01 pm

Yeah!
"The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city."
Lewis Mumford, The Highway and the City, 1963

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UNOstudent
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Postby UNOstudent » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:33 pm

do any of you guys know how well light rail and cars co-exist on the roadway. my sister lived in houston when they opened a new light rail and they had an accident everyday on the news b/c of a train hitting a car or vise versa. i think it would be more benefitial to get the mass transit off the street, but i realize there is a higher cost. do you guys know how much more it costs per mile to have elevated or underground transit versus street level transit?

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Postby Swift » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:39 pm

I wonder if it would cost more than driver education classes? :roll:

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UNOstudent
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Postby UNOstudent » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:57 pm

haha, but dont you think people would get annoyed by having to wait for trains? wouldnt trains have to travel slower on the street level? if they do and you add the slower travel speed plus the time to make all the stops, it can take longer to take train versus car.

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Postby eomaha » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:01 pm

I can't read or work on my laptop while behind the wheel of my car. :)

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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:10 pm

That's a great point, Jeff!

In general, when a streetcar is operating in the same traffic lanes as cars, it functions much like a dirty, stinky bus, minus the dirt and stink. In some instances, it might operate in its own right of way on or adjacent to the street. This is the secnario where you would have the streetcar passing up cars stopped in traffic.

The beauty of light rail is that it is soooooo versitile. You can have it operate on the street in some areas, and then in others, perhaps at a major downtown hub, it can even operate like a subway and have underground stations, etc.
"The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city."
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UNOstudent
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Postby UNOstudent » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:13 pm

so basically all you guys are saying that having light rail on the street has no problems?

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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:14 pm

Well, we're definitely saying that it would have VASTLY FAR fewer problems than current public transit in Omaha, with MANY MORE benefits.
"The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city."
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Postby Swift » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:16 pm

UNOstudent wrote:so basically all you guys are saying that having light rail on the street has no problems?


Not only that, but it helps cure obesity, cancer and some strains of the haunta virus*.



does not actually cure haunta virus

StreetsOfOmaha
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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:18 pm

hahaha
"The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city."
Lewis Mumford, The Highway and the City, 1963

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Postby Zephyr » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:19 pm

In general, light rail costs about 3X per mile to elevate and 10X per mile to go underground. There's many ways to mitigate the negative effects when light rail/streetcar mixes with traffic, like what Houston did to decrease its accidents, which was public awareness and better signage. Cities like Portland and Tacoma have fewer problems because the streetcars are designed to fit into the context better.
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Postby Swift » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:34 pm

I would think Dodge street would be easy enough to set up, just *snip!* there goes that chameleon middle lane!

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UNOstudent
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Postby UNOstudent » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:58 pm

im all for public transit and think there are benefits to be received but i'm not totally sold that having it on the street is the best thing. maybe i need to see first hand how a good-working light rail operates such as in portland or tacoma. where would a light rail be best placed to fit the context of the surrounding areas to receive maximum results?

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Postby Ingersoll1978 » Thu Feb 03, 2005 12:07 am

If you are in Minneapolis, check out their new light rail system. It's works well. At times it's in the middle of the street, others on it's own alignment. I really liked it.

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Postby DTO Luv » Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:48 am

I think the light rail would work better in North and South Omaha. I bet more people in those neighborhoods rely on public transportation than other parts of the city. I had met a lady here from LA and she said that the public transportation in Omaha was terrible. I don't even think the buses go much past 680 if at all in some areas. I had to use the bus for awhile and it sucked. I know trains will have problems too, but at least it would feel like a step up from the bus and it might run on time better.
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Postby DMRyan » Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:50 am

I would agree DTO. This is where you already have the density and the need to build lightrail/streetcars. It's just not as flashy as connecting the airport to the zoo to UNO for example.

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Postby StreetsOfOmaha » Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:51 pm

UNOstudent wrote:im all for public transit and think there are benefits to be received but i'm not totally sold that having it on the street is the best thing.


Well....that's because it's not the best thing. The best thing would be for Omaha to have a total subway system, completely free of street traffic, and the density and tax base to support it. Obviously that's not the case, and you have to start somewhere. And light rail/streetcars are a HELLUVA lot better than buses, or no transit at all. And as I mentioned, light rail is very versatile. Like Ingersoll said of Minneapolis' system, light rail can operate independently or at streetlevel.

But yes, having experience with light rail systems will really sway your perspective. I definitely recommend it.

And DTO, I Definitely agree that more "transit-riders" exist in north and south Omaha, so that would work, too. It just so happens that Destination Midtown has proposed a line linking Midtown and Downtown, which I think would be the best first line because it would serve as a sort of "flagship" line for light rail in Omaha. Of course, it could branch north and south from downtown in the future, as well as further west.
"The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle is actually the right to destroy the city."
Lewis Mumford, The Highway and the City, 1963


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