The co-owner of Orsi’s Bakery and a former state senator who lives in Little Italy want a one-way street in the neighborhood changed back to two-way traffic.
Jim Hall of Orsi’s and Pat Venditte said Wednesday that a one-way stretch of Pierce Street, from Sixth to Eighth Streets, is confusing to older residents, inconvenient and potentially dangerous.
They said they want the city to convert the two blocks of Pierce Street back to two-way traffic. The historic Little Italy area is just south of downtown Omaha.
Assistant Omaha Public Works Director Todd Pfitzer said the street is safer the way it is, with a portion of it one-way. He said the city made the change in 2012 after residents complained about heavy truck traffic from a business in the area. More truck traffic from a major sewer project was looming at the time. New housing was being built. The city also installed speed bumps on Pierce.
While the sewer project is over, the business still generates truck traffic, and it’s safer for the trucks to travel on Sixth Street to Pacific Street on their way west out of the neighborhood, Pfitzer said. Those streets are better suited for truck traffic than Pierce is, he said.
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Hall and Venditte, who owns a driving education business, said the one-way stretch of Pierce is confusing and inconvenient. Venditte said he has to drive three blocks around to get out of the neighborhood. They said they worry that it will cause accidents.
Hall said Pierce was a two-way for 45 of the 52 years he has been in the neighborhood. He and Venditte said their understanding was the Pierce Street stretch would be one-way temporarily, only during the sewer project construction.
But Pfitzer said it was never meant to be temporary, but to fix the truck traffic problem long term. He said the city would convert the street back to two-way traffic if Venditte collects signatures from 75% of the people who live along the affected stretch.
Venditte said he has been unable to do that, because some people don’t want the street changed back to two-way.