Date of this Version
Proposals and advocates for the reestablishment of the Omaha Streetcar have been around since the program was first ended in 1955. Similarly, regional passengers through Omaha once experienced both the Union Station (Durham Western Heritage Museum) and the Burlington Station, both were praised for their architecture, ease and comfort of travel. Passenger rail today operates at only a fraction of what it used to. A strong opponent to the railroad has always been the automobile. The automobile with its freedom and speed of technology has quickly surpassed the train and has quickly surpassed the train and has taken full control of our cities growth patterns. This freedom of movement has lead to freedom of development in an increasingly westward direction. This westward movement left nodes of people and sprawling developments in its wake. The nodes, designed to cater to the automobile user as opposed to those using the train. This is apparent for most destinations and seems to be a continuing trend as spaces continue to be developed.
The creation of place through developments on a small scale in the Omaha Downtown seem to be highly adaptable to streetcar travel and pedestrian travel, but preliminary design seems to be better connected by the automobile rather than the purposed rail travel. Abandonment for one form of travel for another is not feasible or consistent with the needs of today’s society. Blending of the streetscape scale achieved by streetcars, the freedom of the automobile, the organization of a Cityscape light rail train, and the future expansion and networking of a regional and national rail will likely be in the future with the high possibility of a high speed rail.
Focusing now on the structure of the transportation hub that I am proposing to achieve the integration and revitalization of the systems that I desire, came first to site selection. While I had already wanted to be closely tied to the historic train yard between the Durham Western Museum and the Burlington Station, to spread a new structure across a vast site would be contradictory to my goal of integration without sprawl. The conclusion that I reached was to renovate and add to a building left vacant by the rail travel and the train yards obsolete fate. The Burlington Postal Annex, a historically registered building left vacant after the decline of rail travel. The Annex, built in 1928, carries the old charm seen in the Old market structures, while being located on the edge of the Near South District and train yard serves a better unifier structurally of the two districts. Its freedom from the nostalgia that the Burlington and the Durham carry by being old train stations and great need for development inspires and creates a great oppurtunity for its rennovation.
“The Connection Through Creation of Place” is structured to rely on the varying scales at which an intermodal center must operate to be successful. It is the success of each scale: National, Regional, Site, and Destination that each form of transportation relies on. Omaha currently has an Amtrak station; it however does not attract many users throughout its surroundings or within the city. The downtown master plan encourages streetcar and light rail travel in its development, but their connection and integration does not seem initially important to their design. It is the success of these systems that is the goal and importance of this structure not only in transportation, but also socially, historically and functionally for Omaha’s inhabitants on a day to day experience.