Residents hoping for a change of direction on Farnam Street are dealing with a dead-end. A city traffic study put the brakes on hopes to eliminate the one-way traffic from 46 th street to Happy Hollow during peak commute times.
The study said costs to put left turn lanes with a potential change could top $500,000. It also said a re-route could clog other routes that are already filling up due to new development and transit projects.
“It would be irresponsible to implement a major change at this point,” said Omaha City Engineer Todd Pfitzer.
“There are so many times I've gotten people racing by me,” said Dan Schuchart who stopped in the middle of a bike ride down Farnam Monday afternoon.
Schuchart favors the change, but if that’s not possible, he’d like to see speeds go down during the one-way traffic periods.
“[Cars] carry that Dodge street freeway traffic; that competitive dynamic. On Dodge, you've got three lanes open. They fly off Dodge and come onto Farnam,” he said.
According to the study, 8,400 vehicles travel Farnam Street each day. The study also found one-way crashes have decreased to about 13 per year from 2009 to 2013.
A majority of those crashes happen when drivers who are not aware of the change attempt a left turn from the far lane.
Kathy Ritchie was one of those drivers. In 2007 she attempted a turn near 46th and Farnam Street.
“I looked for oncoming traffic. Nothing was coming. I had my blinkers on, and I was in the right-hand lane, and BOOM!” she said describing the crash. “I don’t go on that street anymore. Ever.”
The study said left-turn lane-crashes would drop under if the one-ways were eliminated, but pointed to a potential increase in head-to-head crashes.
City Councilor Chris Jerram said the study allows him to explore some of the issues. He insisted that its release did not mean the issue was settled.
“It's just a matter of not, if, but when there is a serious collision there,” Jerram said.
“If we could keep the speed down on this stretch of road, I think everyone could deal with the one way dynamic better,” Schuchart said.
Dundee-Memorial Park Neighborhood Association representatives called the study disappointing. They said it appeared to be geared more toward commuters than to residents living in the area.