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September 5, 2003

For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
David DiMartino (202) 224-8795
Julie Edwards (202) 224-5765


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson today announced that $1,925,000 in federal funds for City of Omaha and City of Lincoln public works projects was approved Thursday by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee as part of the 2004 VA/HUD appropriations bill that funds the Veterans Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other items.

The City of Omaha has been awarded $875,000 for North Omaha revitalization projects, including $250,000 for a North 24th Street Corridor Revitalization project and $625,000 for a North Omaha Housing Initiative. The City of Omaha also has been awarded $675,000 for sewer separation projects including $300,000 for separation of combined sewers and $375,000 for construction of combined sewer separation systems. The City of Lincoln has been awarded $375,000 for construction of combined sewer separation systems.

The City of Omaha is undertaking a project to "return 24th Street to its historic place as the main street of North Omaha". The enhancement of the street landscape and attractive public destination spaces will make North 24th Street the backbone for revitalizing N. Omaha. New residential and commercial developments will tie together the public and private investment made in ongoing redevelopment projects adjacent to the corridor. The "Housing Initiative" portion of the project will remove deteriorated structures and reuse vacant lots in an effort to create 25 new affordable housing opportunities.

The City of Omaha's combined sewer separation program will separate storm and sanitary sewers that are over 100 years old and serve approximately 1/3 of the City's residents. Wet weather conditions result in discharge of untreated wastes into the environment and residents’ basements. A plan to separate the system began in 1990 as a back-up prevention program and has expanded in to a more aggressive approach to separate as much of the system as is economical. Since 1990, 78 projects have been completed or are in the construction phase. The majority of the separation work has been scheduled for the eastern portion of Omaha.

“Now more than ever, this infusion of federal dollars is critical to Omaha's redevelopment efforts. It allows the city to aggressively pursue improvement plans ranging from new business to affordable housing to streets and sewer separations. It's important the great momentum generated by our Missouri Riverfront redevelopment is not lost but rather pushed into our neighborhood communities and smaller business districts. This funding helps make that happen in particular in our redevelopment work on the North 24th Street corridor,” said Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey.

The City of Lincoln will use the $375,000 of funding toward upgrades to the Theresa Street wastewater treatment facility, which currently serves two-thirds of the city. The upgrades are the most immediate need in the City's Capital Improvement Program's comprehensive effort to address the City's aging water infrastructure system which serves Lincoln's existing neighborhoods.

“The Lincoln community is very pleased that the Senate Appropriations Committee concurs that Lincoln's sewer system is in need of repair, and we are grateful to Senator Nelson for his attention to this vital matter," said Lincoln Mayor Coleen Seng, "We are hopeful that the EPA budget ultimately approved by Congress contains sufficient funds for this project."

The 2004 VA/HUD Appropriations bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

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