Engineer lays out plans for Nebraska Medical Center expansion in Omaha

Two major additions to University Nebraska Medical Center’s Saddle Creek Campus are included in the project.
On Tuesday, the Omaha City Council heard the plan for UNMC's expansion of its Saddle Creek Campus.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 6:40 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Warren Swanson has lived in Omaha’s Dundee Neighborhood for 50 years.

Lately, he’s seen a lot of changes.

“The neighborhood is becoming more and more transit, more and more turnover of people,” Swanson said. “You see a lot more people now walking than you used to see walking, which isn’t bad. The more people in the neighborhood is better I guess. [That’s] ultimately the city’s goal.”

Farnam Street west of Saddle Creek Road has been closed for quite some time due to construction leading to University Nebraska Medical Center’s Saddle Creek Campus.

That work is just beginning.

The project includes two major additions: a 350,000-square-foot administrative building and an innovation hub.

Luke Weatherly of Olsson Engineering is representing the project. He laid out the plans for the area in front of the Omaha City Council on Tuesday.

“The whole crux of this district is this, as you mentioned, the innovation hub for the campus,” Weatherly said. “This is an extension of the UNMC’s campus. As we know, we have a lot of urban infill projects. This was previously the steel casting developmental. A large portion of this site has been acquired over a number of years and they’ve had a couple of false starts in getting developers to come on with this, so UNMC has taken it upon themselves to develop it.”

Weatherly told council members that the plan includes extending 46th Street south through the middle of the new campus and adding bike trails that connect with the city’s existing trail system.

Councilman Danny Begley noted traffic congestion and wanted clarification on rumors of a traffic calming device.

Weatherly explained that engineers determined Farnam Street to be too steep to install a roundabout at 46th Street. Instead, a four-way stop will take its place.

Several safety measures are included in the plan, such as pedestrian walkways over Saddle Creek Road to reduce bike and foot traffic.

“It’s the expansion of the medical center, its jobs, its construction,” Begley said. “It’s building that area. That old steel mill, the steel casting, that was an eyesore for a long time.”

Swanson sees another benefit, albeit temporary.

“It’s not all bad because all the neighbors in the area love seeing Farnam Street closed,” Swanson said.

Plans also call for a new intersection at Saddle Creek Road and Leavenworth Street to improve both traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

That work is due to begin next summer.