A necessary step for Omaha to roll into the future-or an unnecessary expensive dream?
Omaha's streetcar fight heats up again.
The debate turned hot during the mayoral election season but then cooled down.
This time a new campaign is trying to win public support for the project and spark a new discussion.
Modern Streetcar Advocates launched a pro-streetcar campaign on Wednesday in hopes of informing the public on the benefits of installing a streetcar that will run from TD Ameritrade Park through the Old Market, Midtown Crossing, Blackstone District to UNMC.
“As we look to revitalize more of our urban core the topic of transit continually comes up, and it's something we hear people want and talk about all the time,” said Jay Lund with GreenSlate Development and one of the key creators of Modern Streetcar Advocates.
Blackstone Social partner Chris Oltman is also leading this effort and believes the streetcar will benefit the local economy, “Tax base, job creation, being competitive against other cities so making Omaha more attractive to young professionals and making sure we are keeping that talent at home.”
The group said Kansas City's streetcar generated $2-billion dollars for downtown businesses and had 2 million riders in its first year.
“The businesses in Kansas City on the line have had a 58-percent increase in sales,” said Oltman.
However opponents have stated in the past the $150 million construction price tag and over $7 million annual operating cost is too high and the city should use the money to fix street instead.
But streetcar supporters hope their new effort will shift public perception their way.
“The streetcar actually ran through this district and made this district what it was. Farnam street is the natural corridors,” said Lund.
Metro Transit is conducting a study to determine the feasibility of a streetcar in Omaha and HDR is also involved.
Here is the website if you would like to sign join their campaign: https://modernstreetcaradvocates.org/