Mayoral Rivals Agree: Omaha's Streets Need Repair

 (WOWT) -- After a long and contentious campaign, the two candidates for Omaha mayor are finally agreeing on something: the city's streets are crumbling – and it’s a serious problem.

The former state senator took his campaign to the streets Monday, accusing his opponent, current Mayor Jean Stothert, of neglecting the pavement.

“The streets that we're standing on right now are simply a torn-up mess,” Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello said. “As I look at the pavement around me, I'm embarrassed for our city, frankly.”

Mello chose a cratered street near Westside High School as the launch pad for his criticism. He pointed to a transportation study last year ranking Omaha's roads as some of the worst in the nation.

“Omaha, more than anyone else, has an infrastructure crisis,” he said.

Inside her campaign office, Stothert fired back. She said, “I have never denied, ever, that our roads are in bad condition and they need a lot of work.”

She touted several major road projects either in-progress or in-the-works and she claimed she’s devoted more money and more resources to fix the city's streets than previous mayors.

“Our roads are 50 years behind where they should be. And we have 5,000 lane miles of road in Omaha. And it's going to take us awhile to catch up,” said Mayor Stothert.

Mello criticized Stothert for what he called "poor leadership" when it comes to fixing streets like this. Stothert said she believes, on the whole, the streets are better now under her leadership than they were before she took office. 

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