Is NJ road project the slowest ever? Sent for Guinness book nomination
TOMS RIVER — Work on improving the intersection of Route 37 and Route 166 began in March, 2016 and 1,000 days later ... is still not complete.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation said it expects most of the project to wrap up by the end of the year -- but that's not not soon enough for Larry Schuster, owner of Schuster's Toms River Car Wash. He thinks it is its slowness is worthy of recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records.
"I was just sitting here thinking 'Wow, this has been really long.' I just Googled it and I figured I'd fill it out, send it in and see what happens," Schuster said.
Guinness spokeswoman Rachel Gluck said Schuster will be sent set of guidelines specific to that record category that must be adhered to.
"This also details a list of evidence that must be submitted in order for our team to verify the record. Within 12-15 weeks of submission, our Records Management Team then reviews the evidence and will confirm the success or failure of the record attempt," Gluck said in an email.
Schuster said he has been notified via email by Guinness that his application is being reviewed. He couldn't locate an existing record in the category.
"It's just making light of a situation that's been brutal to us small business owners over here. We put out signs, we post crazy things, just trying to make light it and put the word out that we're still here waiting for our customers," Schuster said.
The $11.7 million project includes a raised median barrier between opposing traffic lanes, improvement to the the roadway geometry, traffic signal improvements between Highland Parkway and Old Freehold Road, and widening the roadway by constructing a new through lane on Route 166 northbound and southbound.
The project has gone much slower than anticipated, with breaks in the summer to allow for shore traffic. Lane closures created long lines of traffic waiting for the light at Route 37 and 166, as retailers said they were losing business.
Schuster doesn't blame the workers for taking so long.
"The guys who are working are really humping. They're working hard and they're doing major infrastructure here. It's just the timeline of the lulls in between between stages," he said.
New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Matthew Saidel in August cast the blame on an interruption in funding. Then-Governor Chris Christie had ordered a shutdown of the Transportation Trust Fund in 2016, causing work to stall between July and October of that year.
"The gas company moved onto other work and only restarted its work in the summer of 2017, which caused a change to the overall project schedule," Saidel said. "That work needed to be done prior to additional utility work and the road work that then proceeded."
He said earlier in 2018 the DOT worked with Toms River and Ocean County officials to expedite the reconstruction of the on/off ramps between Route 166 and 37 and as a result work was done by Memorial Day there.
Vin Ebenau contributed to this report