By Kelly Langin, Contributor
The construction on Farnam Street between 36th and 42nd streets finally ended as Omaha opened the formerly one-way westbound street as a two-way on Nov. 2. The project cost $677,000, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
This area of Farnam Street used to run three lanes westbound and featured on-street parking on both sides. Now, one of the lanes has been converted to an eastbound lane, allowing traffic to run both directions. Most of the on-street parking is gone to make room for traffic.
Bill Baburek, owner of Crescent Moon Ale House, said he appreciates the push for the city to continue to make the Blackstone district a better business area for both new and old businesses. He said the “friendly” traffic flow is more convenient for customers.
Baburek said he believes the finished construction on Farnam enhances the experience of working in the Blackstone district for the new businesses and helps to revitalize the area.
“I hope it affects everything in a positive way,” Baburek said. “That was the entire goal for the push to make this happen.”
Baburek said the biggest transition earlier in the week for customers was trying not to drive west down the eastbound lane out of habit. Now, he says, most customers are getting used to the change.
For some area residents, the new traffic causes more problems than benefits. Sarah Duke, a senior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha studying public relations and advertising, lives in an apartment near 39th and Farnam streets and takes the road west to campus. She said she thinks the new flow of traffic will make evening travel worse.
“When it was two lanes during construction, it was awful,” Duke said. She said the construction in the process of changing the traffic flow caused at least two accidents near her apartment. “It was better the original way,” Duke said.
Businesses in the district have also lost the convenience of customer parking right outside the storefront. Baburek said he gained some parking on 36th Street, which runs by the west side of the Crescent Moon, when it became a northbound one-way street during construction. However, he said he also lost on-street parking on Farnam, which he said he prefers.
“The city did not do enough,” Baburek said. He said he would like to see the city push for even slower traffic on Farnam by removing one of the westbound lanes and adding more on-street parking. “It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s still room for improvement,” Baburek said.