A major road project in west Omaha, an expansion of the riverfront trail and renovations at Omaha Police Headquarters are on a long list of projects that Mayor Jean Stothert hopes to fund in 2014.
The mayor's plan for spending on roads, parks, city buildings and other public spaces through 2019 includes money for several projects that were planned or started under former Mayor Jim Suttle. The new capital improvement plan includes a handful of additions by Stothert — among them, a new northwest Omaha aquatic center — but largely holds off on new big-ticket items in the near future.
Initial funding for the aquatics center, including for engineering studies, would be $100,000 in 2018 and $900,000 in 2019.
A few ongoing projects are set to wrap up in 2014, including the renovation of the Gene Leahy Mall. Stothert set aside $150,000 to complete lighting and landscaping work and the final stages of dredging and refilling the pond in the downtown landmark.
Many are long-term efforts, with funding spread across several years. The plan includes $250,000, for example, for a north downtown bridge that would connect walkers, runners and bikers to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. An additional $1.7 million is earmarked for the project in 2015 and a similar amount in 2016.
The $2.7 million set aside for road widening on 156th Street is part of a project that will continue through 2017, Public Works Director Bob Stubbe said. He said the improvements, which will eventually stretch from Pepperwood Drive to Corby Street and also on Blondo Street from 155th to 160th Streets, will make a noticeable difference.
“Especially if you drive the (Dodge) Expressway, the tendency in the peak hour in the evening is to get some backups onto the off-ramps,” he said.
Work on the riverfront trail will add one mile, bringing the system to the Washington County line. Future plans call for a trail that would run on the north and west sides of Carter Lake.
Parks Director Brook Bench said the 2014 trail project — bringing it up to 20 miles — will be a welcome addition for a well-used trail. “If you get north of Dodge Park, it's some of the most scenic trail in Omaha.”
Meanwhile, Stothert also plans to spend $350,000 to keep up the Civic Auditorium, which Suttle had announced would be closed in summer 2014.
Stothert has said she wants to see the area developed with Creighton University, and she rejected Suttle's plan for having a real estate firm find a developer.
Cassie Seagren, Stothert's deputy chief of staff focusing on economic development, said the mayor hopes to come up with more firm plans for the facility over the next few months. “It is still a priority project for the administration,” she said.
A snapshot of projects to be funded in 2014:
» $5.2 million for improvements at the intersection of 42nd and Q Streets. It's the first year of a two-year project that will replace the Q Street bridge over the railroad tracks.
» $900,000 for improvements on 16th Street between Dodge and Harney Streets. Officials plan to relocate the bus transit center, but that work has been delayed for additional study.
» $375,000 for bike lanes, sidewalk improvements and other work on Harney Street from 10th Street to Turner Boulevard. It's the first stage of the project. The bulk of the funding is slated for 2016.
» $400,000 for a road-widening project on 168th Street from West Center Road to Poppleton Avenue.
» $400,000 for a new trail, picnic facilities, playground and parking at Levi Carter Park at Carter Lake.
» $366,000 for a new bridge over the Big Papio Creek near TD Ameritrade's Old Mill headquarters. An additional $2.7 million for the bridge, which would connect Lamp Park and the Papio Trail to the TD Ameritrade building and other businesses, is proposed for 2015.
» $100,000 to complete the renovation of Benson Park, including a new shelter, playground and picnic areas.
» $690,000 for three new medic unit vehicles, the start of an ongoing replacement program.
» $200,000 for fire training additions, including a trench rescue simulator and confined space rescue facility.
» $335,000 for renovations at Police Headquarters, including an updated crime lab and evidence-processing facilities.
» $1.3 million for upgrades at the Public Safety Training Center for police.