LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska’s current governor and those who want to succeed him are in a spat over the quality of the Cornhusker State’s roads.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election, took exception to gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen’s comments that the state’s roads were “not that bad.”
Ricketts describes Nebraska’s 194,000 miles of roadways as “high-quality,” according to the Nebraska News Channel (NNC).
Nebraska’s highway system ranks 21st in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report released in November by the Reason Foundation. This is a nine-spot decline from the previous report where the state ranked 12th.
Nebraska ranks 48th in urban arterial pavement condition with 28.07% of pavement in poor condition. Nebraska has more than four times as much poor condition urban arterial pavement as peer states Kansas and South Dakota. Rural fatality rate is another weakness, with Nebraska having twice the rural fatality rate as South Dakota but a similar fatality rate to Kansas. Rural arterial pavement quality could be improved. Nebraska has 1.5 times the percentage of rural arterial pavement as South Dakota and five times as much as Kansas.
Nebraska could also reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges. The state has twice the percentage of structurally deficient bridges as Kansas, although it does have less than South Dakota.
In safety and performance categories, Nebraska ranks 31st in overall fatality rate, 35th in structurally deficient bridges, second in traffic congestion, 21st in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 29th in rural Interstate pavement condition.
Nebraska spends $36,173 per mile of state-controlled road. Nebraska is 11th in total spending per mile and 10th in capital and bridge costs per mile.
Nebraska’s best rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile (second) and traffic congestion (second).
Nebraska’s worst rankings are in urban arterial pavement condition (48th) and in rural fatality rate (39th).
Nebraska commuters spend 2.88 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking second in the country.
Nebraska’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 30th largest highway system in the country.
NNC reported that all six statehouse hopefuls were asked to name their priorities when it comes to spending some $3 billion in federal funds heading to Nebraska. The cash following Congress’ recent passage of the Biden Infrastructure Law.
State Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha called the state’s four-lane highways deficient, while lesser-known candidate Breland Ridenour of Elkhorn said, “Nebraska is known for being the state with horrible roads, we need better roads.”
To double down on the issue, Ricketts took to Twitter to thank the Nebraska Department of Transportation for maintaining “our high quality roadways.”
He also noted that, “U.S. News and World Report ranks Nebraska #9 in the nation for road quality. QuoteWizard.com puts us #5 in the nation for best road infrastructure.”
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