By the time New Jersey and the federal government get finished paying for rebuilding 12.5 miles of Route 35, total costs will be about $341 million That's a lot of blacktop, and it raises a lot of questions.
"Well first of all we have to find out why 31 times the average cost per mile went into constructing this 12.5-mile road," Lesniak said. "Why one contractor got paid over $18 million to do no work, featherbedding of the worst kind -- how does this happen? Was it just bad management? Was it just political decisions made that were bad decisions?"
Lesniak wants answers, so he says he's gone to New Jersey's US senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, to ask for a federal investigation into the mess. An Asbury Park Press investigation into the matter unveiled contractors being paid millions not to work and even lock up their gear as the summer of 2014 settled in.
The DOT sent Chasing News a statement, saying things were not nearly as simple as they're being portrayed. First, they say, the Route 35 project is no "mill and pave job" but a full rebuild designed to last 50 years and withstand a 25-year storm. Immediately after Hurricane Sandy, huge sections of road had washed away, leaving sinkholes and other chaos in their wake. The DOT adds that new drainage, gas, water and sewage systems had to be built and laid out in order for the paving to resume, adding that utility damage wasn't always known until it was uncovered.
Whether Lesniak's requested investigation will occur is not yet known.