Light rail system from Omaha to Bellevue proposed

Light rail system from Omaha to Bellevue proposed : Leaders in Omaha and Bellevue are considering a proposal to turn an abandoned railroad line into a light rail system that would run for north Omaha south into Bellevue.

City council members for Omaha and Bellevue recently attended a briefing on the proposal, led by Omaha community development nonprofit Emerging Terrain, the Omaha World-Herald reported ( on Tuesday.

Planners said the proposed 20-mile light rail system would be coupled with a parallel recreational trail and city bus hubs along the rail traveling east and west. Planners say the repurposed Omaha Belt Line could lead to an estimated 9,000 jobs and 4,500 new homes along just one 3.5-mile stretch of the rail corridor in eastern Omaha.

The plan would require not only the support of several governments and private landowners, but tens of millions of public and private dollars to fully implement over the next 10 to 15 years, Emerging Terrain founder Anne Trumble said.

Planners have not estimated the cost of the overall project, but noted it would cost more than $20 million just to acquire the Douglas County property needed to establish the right of way. A comprehensive economic analysis of costs and benefits would be the next step, Trumble said.

“We’re putting it all out there,” Trumble said at the workshop attended by members of Omaha’s and Bellevue’s city councils. “This is a way of engaging people in a discussion.”

The Omaha Belt Line was built in 1885 to connect key industries of the city to main rail lines. The Belt Line was abandoned in the 1980s, following the development of the country’s interstate system and long-distance trucking.

Currently, about two miles of the rail line remains an active freight rail in south Omaha, Trumble said, meaning that an alternate route for the light rail for that stretch would be necessary.

Reaction of elected leaders was positive.

Bellevue City Council President Don Preister said the project could “be done in increments that are manageable.”

“Money is always the big catch, but I think the biggest hurdle is what already is accomplished,” Preister said.

Omaha City Councilman Garry Gernandt said repurposing the abandoned line would be akin to clearing a clogged artery.

“This would be the nitro pill for connecting north and south,” he said.


Source : yankton

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