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'No loss of life is acceptable': Omaha's Vision Zero Action Plan draft recommendations on display

Posted at 10:17 PM, Aug 15, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — According to the City of Omaha Fatal Crash Dashboard, there have been 21 deadly traffic crashes in Omaha this year alone. These include pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.

The City of Omaha's, Visions Zero Action Plan aims to bring fatalities and serious injury traffic crashes to zero.

"No loss of life is acceptable. So that's a trend that we need to work on fixing here in the City of Omaha," said Austin Rowser, assistant public works director for transportation services.

It was a packed room Tuesday, as many members of the community came to UNO's Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center to hear from the city about its plan to improve safety on our roads for all modes of transportation.

"It's just a lot of great information, a lot of good counter-measures, a lot of things that our consultants and our staff have discovered through research and through recommendations from other entities and other groups that have done 'Vision Zero'," Rowser said.

Rowser said the use of roundabouts peaked his interest throughout the five year process.

"We are looking at that safest intersection design. A lot of times that's roundabouts, you know we like to talk about roundabouts from a vision zero stand point," Rowser said.

But one Omaha biker 3 News Now spoke to said roundabouts might not be the best way forward.

"Roundabouts are good for motor vehicles, and bicycles, I don't usually have much trouble with them. As a pedestrian, like the peanut up on Saddlecreek, they are kind of confusing and difficult," said Clyde Anderson, an Omaha resident.

Other focus areas, highlighted included intersections, speed control and "high injury networks".

"We've got a program agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation to study the Northwest Radial Highway, that's part of the high injury network," Rowser said. He also mentioned they just received a grant for Ames Avenue to do some safety improvements there.

Some project like signal timing may be quicker. But Rowser said there are long-term plans like fixing intersections that may take longer.

"There is a lot honestly. I am still taking in the full scope of all the city's strategies," said Uri Harding, an Omaha resident.

Several plans and policies were displayed on boards around the room, the community was able to mark if they support or oppose each.

But the goal overall is to make Omaha streets safer.

"Crashes, they affect all of us. We all have people we love that drive on these streets," Rowser said.

It is important to note these are draft recommendations. Tuesday was another opportunity to community engagement and feedback. Rowser said the plan will be presented to City Council in September.

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