Land is a Finite Resource

This week, 168th Street between Maple and Dodge opened up, after months of constructing more lanes to accommodate suburban traffic. The city spent $21 million on the project.

The problem is, more lanes doesn’t equal less traffic. In fact, it can often mean more traffic because of a phenomenon known as induced demand. According to Wired Magazine, “though some traffic engineers made note of this phenomenon at least as early as the 1960s, it is only in recent years that social scientists have collected enough data to show how this happens pretty much every time we build new roads.”

All is not lost, however. Even though Omaha has spread, we still have the opportunity to change our traffic patterns and the ways we get around our beautiful city.

A streetcar will help us bring more density to our urban core. It will make it easier to travel back and forth between downtown to midtown. It will spur economic development and be a catalyst for us to grow up (bigger, taller buildings with less parking needed) instead of out (because we are encroaching on our city limits).

As an exciting side note, others around the nation are looking to cities like Omaha to “embrace dynamism and reject the spending and regulatory dominance that sprawl has enjoyed, becoming urbanized centers of their own.”

We can do it! We can become a more vibrant, cosmopolitan place with life-enhancing amenities (like a robust public transportation system), and still keep all the great things that make Omaha unique, like affordable housing, Midwestern hospitality and a culture of innovation. One of the best attributes about Omaha is our people and our ability to come together around great ideas and make them a reality – ideas like the streetcar.