Omaha Streetcar Authority approves agreement to work with Portland on streetcar procurements
Omaha will seek a partnership with Portland, Oregon in its search for a streetcar manufacturer.
An agreement approved Monday by the Omaha Streetcar Authority sets out the two cities’ intention to work together on streetcar procurement.
The agreement, a letter of intent, is non-binding but sets in motion a series of events that must take place over the course of 2023 to keep the tram on track for 2026 when it opens.
“Significant costs are expended in evaluating the professional proposals and inspecting the (manufacturing) facilities throughout production,” said Rick Gustafson, interim director of the agency. “We can do this cooperatively to share resources and reduce our costs.”
Omaha estimates the purchase of six vehicles. Portland expects to buy 11.
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The Streetcar Authority plans to decide on vehicle specifications by March and to issue a call for proposals to potential manufacturers over the summer.
If all goes according to plan, the first streetcars would be delivered to Omaha in July 2025. The tram system would be operational in 2026.
The Streetcar Authority was formed last year to oversee the design, construction and eventual operation of the streetcar.
The Board of Directors consists of seven members: three mayor-appointed and City Council-approved, three Metro Transit CEO-appointed, and one Greater Omaha Chamber-appointed community member.
The tram’s planned route is east along Harney Street, then turns north along 10th Street to about Cass Street near the CHI Health Center. The streetcars would then head back south on 10th Street to Capitol Avenue.
From there, the route would travel a few blocks east to Eighth Street near the city’s riverfront before turning west onto Farnam Street. The cars would then head to the western terminus of the route at 42nd Street near the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
The construction of an Omaha streetcar system is tied to Mutual of Omaha’s plans to build a $600 million headquarters on the former site of the W. Dale Clark Library, which was demolished late last year.
Mutual officials said the streetcar system was critical to their plans to build the company’s headquarters. Mutual is scheduled to break ground on the tower on Wednesday.