Gov. Pete Ricketts is weighing in on the state of the state’s roads—roads under his watch the last seven years—and he’s not classifying them as “not that bad.”

Not unlike Jim Pillen, who is running for Ricketts’ job, and has been the odds-on favorite to get Ricketts’ endorsement, the governor describes Nebraska’s 194,000 road miles—21st most in the country— as “high-quality roadways.”

As News Channel Nebraska first reported Pillen put roads on the campaign map at a recent GOP candidate forum when he said the roads are "not that bad."

His comment coming as 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—legislation backed by Senator Deb Fischer and her fellow Republican, Congressman Don Bacon.

Pillen who thinks the bill should not have passed in the first place said, “Could we use some money for roads and broadband? Maybe, but not today, they’re not that bad.”

[See additional comments from Pillen above]

Not everyone agreed.

State Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha called the state’s four-lane highways deficient, while lesser-known Breland Ridenour of Elkhorn said, “Nebraska is known for being the state with horrible roads, we need better roads.”

Noting a number of bad bridges in Nebraska—the National Bridge Inventory reports that 1,302 of the state’s 15,348 bridges are “structurally deficient…in poor or worse condition”—Lindstrom said, “We need to spend money making sure our ag producers aren’t driving miles and miles out of the way to get their products from point A to point B.”

Following the forum, when asked by NCN if he stands by his “not that bad” statement, Pillen doubled down: ““Our infrastructure is not crumbling so bad that conservatives should make a deal with the big government socialists.”

The controversy then found Ricketts driving to Twitter and thanking 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.”

At the same time the American Society of Civil Engineers’ “Infrastructure Report Card” notes that 11 percent of Nebraska’s roads are, “In poor condition. Each motorist pays $461 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.”