The New Jersey town of Leonia has declared that out-of-towners are no longer welcome to use its roads during rush hour and streets used as shortcuts to the nearby George Washington Bridge have been closed to outsiders.
Beginning Monday, out-of-towners will no longer be able to drive through Leonia, New Jersey as a shortcut to get to the George Washington Bridge.
For many drivers who use apps like Google Maps or Waze on their way to the GWB, they’re directed to use the tiny borough in Bergen County as a cut-through. It’s something which causes major traffic for locals, and those locals have decided it is time to put a stop to it.
“It’s become super congested, where you don’t want to go too far just because it could take you 20 minutes to go somewhere a few miles,” said Daniel Petrocelli of Leonia.
“I have a little brother who’s 3 years old. and when he’s playing in the front yard and there’s a bunch of traffic in the street, it’s scary.,” said Marta Lystvak of Leonia.
The ordinance banning the use of Leonia as a shortcut was approved by Leonia’s city council last month and goes into effect Monday.
Out-of-town drivers will be banned from 60 streets during the morning and evening rush. Violators will be slapped with a $200 fine.
“Starting tomorrow morning, if a driver pulls up the Waze app, they will not be recommended to turn on any of our side streets because they will show up as restricted access streets,” Zeigler said. “The other apps are working to do the same thing.”
Bob, who’s lived in town for 20 years, tells WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron he’s looking forward to it.
“That will help,” he said.
But he isn’t completely sold, and says it will take some time to getting used to.
“I used to go down one block, the last block all the time,” he said. “I can’t do that anymore. It’s a one-way so the tag is not going to help you there.”
Officials say the subsequent congestion causes major traffic for locals and makes it difficult for emergency personnel to travel through the town.
Leonia police will close numerous local streets during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Town residents have received yellow tags for their cars that allow them to travel on the shuttered roads.
Zeigler said so far, 4,000 yellow tags identifying residents who may use the streets have been given out.
Seung Oh is still waiting.
“I heard about that,” Oh said. “I think I requested that sticker like three weeks ago, but I haven’t got the sticker yet.”
Zeigler responded, “If he didn’t get it Saturday, he will get it in tomorrow’s mail.”
Navigation apps aside, the mayor anticipates changing drivers’ muscle memory is going to be a challenge. He said the ban is not going to be an overnight traffic fix.
“There’s no doubt it’s going to take some education and some time,” Zeigler said.
But some neighbors were optimistic.
“I think people are still going to do it,” said Sue Kim of Leonia.
“If out in proper action, it could help a lot,” Petrocelli added.
The ban will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. Emergency vehicles will be exempt.
Violators will face fines of up to $200.
As for how the restrictions will affect traffic in surrounding towns, the road ahead was still unclear late Sunday.