Lavallette merchants circulating petitions to stop summer construction on Route 35

     Construction work on Route 35 in Lavallette on Dec. 19, 2014. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks)

    Construction work on Route 35 in Lavallette on Dec. 19, 2014. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks)

    A grassroots campaign is underway in Lavallette to address the possibility of Route 35 construction continuing next summer.

    Earlier this week, the state Department of Transportation announced the closure of one Route 35 northbound lane between Ortley Beach and Lavallette to accommodate road work.

    The work, which includes the installation of two water main lines, drainage pipes, and the reconstruction of a portion of the road, is expected to continue through the spring, according to New Jersey Department of Transportation Communication Director Steve Schapiro. 

    Schapiro, who acknowledges the construction’s impact on the area, said that no decisions on the summer work schedule have been made, and that is worrying local business owners. 

    The Lavallette Business Association, which successfully fought to stop construction during last summer, is once again working to get the state to say “no” to summer work by asking concerned citizens to sign petitions to Governor Chris Christie and NJDOT Commissioner Jamie Fox.

    “Given the economic investment that the state and federal governments has made for recovery of the barrier island, LBA felt convinced then, as it does now,” the petition to Fox reads, “that construction during the summer months will destroy businesses, summer rentals and the economic base of our community on the barrier island. The considerations that LBA expressed in 2014 are unchanged.”

    Kris Kopsaftis of NJ SURF SHOW in Lavallette fears that his business will suffer through another poor summer if the work is not completed by Memorial Day.

    “That would mean a third summer of businesses being affected,” he said. “How are people supposed to survive for three to four years without a chance to make a living?”

    Tyler Mesanko, owner of Shaded Vision in the borough, agrees.

    “We are talking about the four months we all make a living,” he said. “We are not year round. We can’t make it up in the fall. It’s a make or break summer for a lot of businesses.”

    The state is advancing the project on an “aggressive schedule,” according to Schapiro. 

    “We have worked in partnership with our contractors and the community to ease congestion and limit the impact to residents and businesses, while advancing the project on an aggressive schedule to restore the shore as quickly as possible, and we will continue to do so,” he said. 

    The state began planning for the project about ten years ago in order to address pavement distress and corridor-wide flooding issues, but severe impacts inflicted by Superstorm Sandy shifted focus to an full roadway reconstruction, according to the NJDOT. 

    The work stretches along the corridor from Bay Head to South Seaside Park. 

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