Know Your Node

Pedestrians crossing a busy downtown Omaha street don't have as far to walk these days thanks to a "node.” Do you know what a node is?

Most don't seem to notice the node. “Seems to work fine.”

“Just cruise right across, no one hit us.”

Installed this spring, it’s a peninsula against a sea of traffic designed to make crossing 10th Street quicker and safer. “It’s pedestrian safety, it’s traffic flow, it’s to direct traffic when there are lane drops,” says Omaha city engineer Todd Pfitzer.

A sign warns southbound drivers that 10th Street shrinks to one lane approaching the node, but some turning onto the bridge may not notice. “This driver is evidently confused.” Attorney Jim Schaefer’s office overlooks the node he describes as a "sore thumb."

“It impedes traffic going from our major sports attraction into our biggest tourist attraction.” His evidence is honking horns and a bent post that's been replaced.

City engineers say these are designed to not only protect people crossing the street from oncoming traffic, but also vehicles parked on 10th Street. This is only the latest of many built in the downtown area. Whether it protects pedestrians or just frustrates drivers is debatable. Just don't ask what's a node.

“I don't know. Is that a node?”

The nodes shorten the distance for pedestrians to safely cross a street. The city engineer says traffic signals can be adjusted to provide better flow for traffic and pedestrians.

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