That certainly looks like a pointless "smokescreen" project created to divert tax dollars into something else. It seems very familiar to me. They do something similar in Utah. Here, it's the mysterious "emergency resurfacing" of perfectly good roads and it happens all the time. Utahns don't ask questions... they've been well-trained not to. The lone voice occasionally heard shouting in the wilderness around here? Usually mine.
Last year they covered all but two lanes of a long stretch of I-15 with dirt. Between Salt Lake and Provo - a good 40 miles - the busy freeway became a two-lane hell. For nearly a year they occasionally ran trucks and rollers over it. Mostly they just parked trucks around and made it look like a work zone. In November they removed the dirt, hosed the freeway off and re-painted the surface. At the cost of quite a few million dollars! I wonder if the trench money is going to the same hole-in-the-ground as the Reno Trench money... something tells me "yes".
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."