OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha's Bob the Bridge is well-known and loved, and soon the city will get to meet Baby Bob, an extension of the pedestrian bridge.
Right now, it's about a 20-minute walk from the riverfront bridge to the north downtown area. This extension project will create a direct connection to 10th and Mike Fahey Street, the location of the downtown ballpark.
"It is kind of difficult and clunky to get from the convention center to the Bob Kerrey Bridge and it’s a very popular experience. People like to explore in the area when they’re in town for a convention or to visit our hotels, and now with a lot of new living opportunities on the riverfront, we want to create an environment that encourages the pedestrian experience, but also encourages people to use our amenities like the Bob Kerry bridge and the CHI Health Center," said Pete Festersen, Omaha City Council President.
The expansion will not only create better access to north downtown attractions but improve accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.
"For a lot of folks ... straightforward connection ride into downtown, it makes a lot of sense so as far as accessibility. It opens this as an option for a lot more people, maybe people who are commuter-curious, maybe working in Council Bluffs living in Omaha or vice versa. It makes a bit better connection to downtown," Sarah Johnson, a bike advocate, said.
Johnson says that currently, bikers often have to cross the train tracks, which can be dangerous.
"I’m really not going to miss the glass bridge over the railroad tracks, that's something every time — even today — it’s like 'oh gosh don’t hit the glass' because people throw bottles. This will make it a lot less stressful too. I’m someone who rides on a track comfortably but that’s certainly not everyone. This will make it a lot more comfortable for a lot more people," Johnson said.
The city is hoping this will increase the already-high usage of the Bob. It's also a project that fits with the Urban Core Plan.
"As we continue to invest in the Urban Core and the substantial plans for that in the coming years, we want to ensure it’s the best it can be for pedestrians and trails," Festersen said.
Funds for the project will come from city money, money raised for the project and federal dollars. The construction is set to start in 2023 and it is set to be done in 2024.