North Omaha Trail: Investing in Community Health & Healing

The development and activation of the North Omaha Trail represent the kind of investment needed in North Omaha —  a community subjected to systemic disinvestment and decline for decades, including a lack of public health infrastructures such as trails, parks, and outdoor amenities. 

Neighborhoods, where children can safely walk or bike to a park, school, or to a neighbor’s home, are generally also good places to live. Moreover, trails can safely connect people to the places they want to be, economically benefiting local businesses near these routes. Communities in North Omaha know this, so it should be no surprise that this trail has been a community vision for years. 

The proposed route builds upon years of local, regional, and national planning efforts, including The North Omaha Development Project, The Village Revitalization Plan, and The Forever North Strategic Plan; all community-led neighborhood plans that express the desire to enhance connectivity, walkability, and opportunities for recreation while promoting the rich history and culture of the Black community in North Omaha. 

Planning for the trail began in 2018. City-level planning included referencing previous studies and neighborhood plans, working with National Park Service to create the initial design concept, and securing matching funds from the Natural Resource District. The engineering phase created detailed blueprints to be used in actual trail development, while the community design phase included several public community sessions outlining design guidelines for ongoing projects along the trail. Areas of focus at the community design sessions included art, history, culture, landscape, and community placemaking. Ideas that came out of community design sessions included the installation of a mural wall, mural districts, and informational QR codes, as well as the creation of sustainable landscapes, anchor locations, and unique wayfinding. 

Read the North Omaha Trail Project Design Guide

The first phase of the North Omaha Trail is a two-mile-long cultural trail and public health infrastructure project. The trail currently runs from 31st and Sprague streets outside of Bud Crawford’s gym to 24th and Ohio streets. 

The trail serves as a critical pedestrian-friendly reconnection between two North Omaha neighborhood centers: 30th and Ames streets and 24th and Lake streets. These critical districts were disconnected when Highway 75 was built. The completion of this phase of the trail is the first step in creating a sustainable ecosystem of health, healing, and transformational change for residents of North Omaha who have been adversely impacted by Highway 75.

Additional phases hope to make connections to Downtown Omaha and the Riverfront, as well as Benson and Miller Park. 

Join us on October 22!

On October 22, community members, neighbors, and community partners will celebrate the completion of the first phase of the trail with brunch, a community walk led by GirlTrek Omaha, North Omaha Legacy Tours, and the planting of 175 trees along the newly constructed North Omaha Trail. 

Use this link to RSVP for the walk led by GirlTrek Omaha, reserve an eBike, save a seat on the North Omaha Legacy Tour, or register to plant a tree. 

This blog was written by Clarice Dombeck, urban development assistant with Spark CDI.

Spark is a nonprofit that has led the development of the North Omaha Trail project through the Fabric Lab initiative. Fabric Lab is a Black led-urban planning and design lab located on North 24th at the southern end of the North Omaha Trail. 

North Omaha Trail community partners include: Keep Omaha Beautiful, National Parks Service, and the National Resource District. Keep Omaha Beautiful was instrumental in making tree planting possible. National Parks Service created the conceptual design and provided technical support. The National Resource District provided financial support. 

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