BRT and TOD: Advocating for Success in Omaha


 
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This week studioINSITE held our seventh in a series of “Talking About Placemaking” (TAP) Programs where we explore tactical design strategies for embracing urban placemaking. The October TAP program focused on transit oriented development (TOD).

Omaha’s first bus rapid transit line, ORBT, will launch in 2018. ORBT presents Omaha’s first opportunity for true transit oriented development.  After our initial presentation, we asked the audience to weigh in on 'What actions can planners, designers, developers, and urban advocates in Omaha take to support the success of ORBT and promote successful transit oriented development?'  Some of the ideas shared included:

  • Omaha still needs community education around using transit, taking alternative routes to downtown, and driving safely in more pedestrian/bicycle-friendly environments. This education is needed to provide the public opinion foundation to support success for BRT and TOD.
  • We need to be specific when we discuss developing density along the BRT. There are certain station areas that are appropriate for 8- to 10-story buildings, like downtown and 84th Street. Along most of the corridor, 2- to 3- story buildings would be a significant increase in density and could be more acceptable to surrounding residential neighborhoods.
  • The general opinion is that developers and designers would accept a TOD design overlay. Developers would be more confident in making a higher value investment and designers would have greater opportunity to enhance the pedestrian/transit experience.
  • In addition to public opinion and regulatory support of TOD, there may need to be education for lenders and insurance providers to help make TOD projects economically feasible.

See full notes from this presentation here