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How do Omaha leaders want to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety?

Posted at 6:31 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 19:31:26-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Locally and nationally, there's been a spike in the number of people killed on the roads this year.

The Biden administration is preparing to support transportation safety nationwide, to the tune of $5 billion.

The money addresses pedestrian and cyclist safety by encouraging wider sidewalks, more bike paths and enhancing public transit. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg calls the program "Safe Streets & Roads for All."

Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen sees this as an opportunity to improve pedestrian safety in places like North and South 24th Street, the Blackstone District and at 72nd and Dodge.

"We need a lot better public transit system throughout the city, we need a lot better trail system, we've made progress in that regard but we need to make sure it's connected north, south, east-west as well. But then just your everyday sidewalk experience," Festersen said.

Metropolitan Area Planning Agency Executive Director Mike Helgerson has a wish list.

"Raised crosswalks, pedestrian signals in key locations, rapid flashing beacons is sometimes what they're called," Helgerson said.

On the Iowa side, State Rep. Brian Best (R) chairs the Transportation Committee for the House. He insists county and state roads need all the help they can get.

"Highway 30 could use a facelift in spots, not everywhere, but there are spots that probably need maintenance as often as they can get it opposed to what they're getting now. Highway 4 going up and down the state, Highway 71 in our area," Best said.

Best would like to see more work done at the Wabash Trace Nature Trail which runs from Council Bluffs to the Iowa-Missouri border.

"Doing some work, anytime pedestrian and regular traffic merge together in any way, there's always safety issues that could always be improved," Best said.

It's carving a smoother path for lovable and livable areas.

"Make things safer for pedestrians but also Increase the environment we want to see and the public spaces we want to see that we know attract our young people and make an atmosphere special," Best said.

Cities and states will apply for the grants starting in June. The money will be awarded late this year.

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