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Downtown Lincoln Master Plan

Lincoln, Nebraska
Firm Role
Street design, bicycle and pedestrian planning
2004-2005, adopted 2005
1,100 acres
Honors & Awards
  • 2006 People's Choice Award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

Place Type

The Downtown Lincoln Master Plan offers a bold vision for the future of Nebraska’s state capital – a vision based on the ideas, values, and dreams of a diverse community. As home to both the State Capitol and 27,000 students at the University of Nebraska, downtown was ripe for transformation from an aging, office-dominated “9 to 5” district into a lively, “24-7” mixed-use neighborhood.

To lead the planning process, the City engaged a team led by Crandall Arambula. Patrick Siegman led the bicycle and pedestrian components of the plan, while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting.

The plan creates a walkable, livable, downtown: one that is both prosperous and sustainable. It includes a long-term, 30-year vision for shaping the district, and a short-term implementation plan. The latter identifies seven catalyst projects – from adaptively reusing a historic power station to beautiful new civic spaces – and a realistic action plan for funding and building them.

The plan’s North-South and East-West bicycle lanes transform downtown’s auto-dominated streets, extending Lincoln’s excellent off-street trail network into and through the heart of downtown. The plan includes conceptual designs for both on-street lanes and cycletracks. The latter were among the first protected bicycle lanes proposed in the United States. Since the bicycle lanes were apparently Nebraska’s first, Mr. Siegman also provided model state bicycle lane legislation.

Today, downtown Lincoln is a thriving and cohesive urban core. Since the plan’s adoption, more than $1.3 billion in investment has been attracted to downtown. Its residential population has more than tripled, from 1,500 to more than 5,000 dwellings. The N Street Protected Bikeway forms the backbone of its bicycle network, supported by numerous trails and on-street lanes. New streetscapes and greenways, including a renovated Centennial Mall, provide a comfortable setting for strolling, dining, and shopping.

Images: Government Square and nighttime skyline by Hanyou23, CC BY-SA 4.0, Memorial Stadium by Bobak Ha'Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; all others courtesy of the City of Lincoln