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While road infrastructure is at the forefront of the thesis, patterns of Omaha’s road history were studied to get an understanding of the deeper issue. The research suggested that the problem with road infrastructure is largely based in the creation of arterial streets. Widening roads and creating additional arterial streets initially reduces costs and reduces delays, however the perceived benefits are far less than the actual cost: more home-sprawl, more business-sprawl, more big-boxes, more strip malls, new construction, more cars. On the other hand, if the congestion can be managed rather than creating arterial streets, the opposite occurs: initial increased delays and increased costs, but overtime, homes are improved rather than relocating in new developments, the encouraged use of alternative modes of transportation, businesses and jobs stay in the original locations, people drive less, own fewer cars, and the vehicle miles traveled per person decreases. How can the congestion be managed in Omaha? The solution is rooted in Omaha’s history: return to the malleability of the grid, and regularize the fabric of the city. The grid is an organizational system that allows for the creation of urban space – the network of streets has a great efficiency to accommodate various functions. Most importantly, the grid distributes traffic, creating more capacity on each street, managing congestion. The proposal of the grid, along with Omaha’s plans for a greenbelt boundary, public transportation, and speed limitations, support a new model of urban mobility through intervention of transportation.
As the grid is reinserted into fragments of the city, reconstructing the city on the basis of empty spaces – voids, large parking lots, and dying regions – the larger arterial streets become obsolete. While I-80 is the only arterial street to remain due to its connectivity to the US interstate system, the highways become geographies of space that needs to be rethought. How can design transform the old highways, Omaha’s new spine, into positive zones that add to the value of the city? How can arterial, vehicular infrastructure be reprogrammed to anchor valuable channels throughout Omaha?