🚧 The Route 206 widening project was halted in Hillsborough in May

🚧 It will take an additional two years to complete the work

🚧 The DOT says the project was not simply 'abandoned'

HILLSBOROUGH — New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti is pushing back at criticism the state "abandoned" the Route 206 widening project following a visit from U.S. Rep. Tom Kean, Jr.

Kean, R-N.J. 7th District, urged the NJDOT to restart the Route 206 widening project after a visit on Friday to the 2.5 mile stretch between Doctor's Way and Camplain Road that was suddenly left in a state of disrepair when the NJDOT terminated its contract with  Konkus Corporation in May.

The NJDOT terminated its contract with Konkus due to unspecified safety concerns for both workers and drivers, according to Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

A new contractor, Joseph M. Sanzari Highway and Heavy Construction, was hired to continue the work but the delay has pushed forward the expected completion date of that section by two years from 2024 to 2026.

"The pause in the Route 206 widening project is dramatically impacting Hillsborough businesses and residents," Kean said in a statement. "There are real challenges as a result of this delay, from increased traffic congestion to concerns about safety and the local economy. It's vital that we bring together a multi-level government approach to ensure NJDOT resumes and completes this project."

The area between Camplain Road and Doctor's Way on Route 206 in Hillsborough
The area between Camplain Road and Doctor's Way on Route 206 in Hillsborough (Canva)

Former contractor sues the DOT

Businesses and residents have complained about the impact of the stopped work, resulting in long traffic delays and difficulties in reaching businesses.

Prior to Kean's visit, Hillsborough Deputy Mayor Robert Britting blamed the state in a community update for "stopping the project early," according to a report by Patch.  Gutierrez-Scaccetti disputes the allegation.

"The department did not simply 'stop the project early’ as reported to residents by Hillsborough Deputy Mayor Robert Britting. We take safety issues raised by our employees very seriously. Activities in and around the job site were reported as unsafe, creating risk to employees and motorists alike. We were compelled to act,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti, said in a statement.

Konkus filed a lawsuit against the state in August claiming the contract was ended because of the NJDOT's "blind reliance upon the unsupported, rage filled recommendations of the resident engineer" on the project, according to the complaint.

The project was also delayed by the construction of a 16 inch gas main by PSE&G in the same area of Route 206, according to the complaint. The NJDOT's plans were full of mistakes and the agency refused to pay Konkus addition costs it incurred, according to the complaint.

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