Omaha City Council hears public comment on streetcar

Council votes on the $360 million bond ordinance next week
Omaha debates on funding a streetcar
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 1:16 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The public gets its chance to weigh in on the city’s streetcar plans Tuesday during public comment at this week’s City Council meeting.

Plans to build a streetcar in Omaha — and how to pay for it — were officially put before the City Council on Nov. 15. The council didn’t meet last week because of Thanksgiving.

The council vote is scheduled to happen at next Tuesday’s meeting, on Dec. 13. The vote would give the city the power to eventually issue $360 million in bonds to pay for the streetcar project.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has said the streetcar can be built without a tax increase, and that the taxes created from those who want to build along the route are expected to cover it.

The Omaha City Council debates on the proposed streetcar

The Omaha streetcar line would go from 42nd and Farnam streets to downtown using Harney Street most of the way. It would loop around The RiverFront and head to the convention center on 10th Street before heading back again on Farnam Street. That is the agreed-upon alignment; where it stops and a few other details are all part of the design phase.

The Omaha Streetcar Authority and MECA are considering a site at Eighth Street and Capitol Avenue to become the vehicle maintenance facility, where the streetcars would get fixed and maintained.

Right now, residents know it as the far corner of Parking Lot A.

Besides the bonds, the next step for the Streetcar Authority is to determine whether to make a combined order for six streetcars. and just because the city has permission doesn’t mean it will issue all of the bonds — and it will be done at different stages.

The city of Portland is ordering 11 replacements at the same time. Experts believe this could provide Omaha with a cost-saving measure to consider.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

Reporter Brian Mastre contributed to this story.