Omaha Streetcar Authority ensures emergency vehicles, ambulances are not disrupted

The streetcar is set to travel in both directions on Farnam through Midtown and Blackstone.
Omaha's plan for a streetcar is facing new scrutiny, could it be a roadblock for emergency vehicles racing to the hospital?
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Following Monday’s approval of the route for Omaha’s new streetcar, there’s a laundry list of tasks for the Omaha Streetcar Authority and their design team to tackle.

“Now we have to go to work to determine what will physically fit, what kind of impact will it have on motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchairs, ambulances, fire trucks, and all the different vehicles and ways the right of way is currently used,” says OSA President Jay Noddle.

The streetcar is set to travel in both directions on Farnam through Midtown and Blackstone, which is a route regularly used by ambulances going to and from the Nebraska Medical Center in emergency situations.

It begs the question — will the streetcar impact the response times and emergency routes for these vehicles? Noddle says that’s one of those laundry-list items they need to work on.

“That’ll be part of the metrics that are used to determine how the streetcar system could be laid out on Farnam and Harney Street with an emphasis on Farnam Street so that we don’t do anything that’s overly disruptive or problematic for emergency vehicles,” he says.

Now, over the next several months, the roadways on which the streetcar is set to travel on will be studied to determine how and where exactly streetcar tracks will fit, and how the new transportation option can co-exist with other modes of transport, including those emergency vehicles.

“I’m certain if there are concerns about public safety, we’ll be working with the appropriate leadership, fire department, police department, as well as the medical center to determine what can be modified, what should be modified, what works, what doesn’t work and so forth,” Noddle adds.

As the process moves forward, Noddle says he’s confident that every piece of the puzzle will fit.

“There are dozens of streetcar systems across the country and in every case, the streetcar system has to share the right of way with all those different forms of transportation.”

Tuesday night, the Nebraska Medical Center’s facility team told 6 News that as of now, it appears as though a plan is in place that won’t impede emergency vehicle flow to and from the hospital’s campus.