LEONIA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There’s trouble ahead for New Jersey drivers who use side streets as shortcuts near the George Washington Bridge.
One community is changing the rules of the road.
Getting over the bridge during rush hour is like a game of Pac-Man. Those that lose patience often turn to navigation apps like Waze to circumvent highway traffic and detour onto local roads.
“Our town will go border to border. A standstill compromises public safety, we can’t to calls quickly enough — also a major conduit to three area hospitals,” Leonia Police Chief Thomas Rowe said.
Now, the boro of Leonia said it is out of business as a cut through.
“We are going to be closing as many as sixty secondary roads, 6 to 10 a.m., 4 to 9 p.m. at night, seven days a week,” Rowe said.
Sundays bring significant bridge traffic.
Local side streets will be closed with ‘do not enter’ signs. Those who try to cheat the system will be fined $200.
“We are going to be working with Waze so it’s put into their algorithm that these streets are out of play, so vehicles on the highway should no longer see this as a viable cut through,” Rowe said.
Residents and people who work in Leonia will be exempt and issued hanging yellow tags to indicate that they belong.
So what do locals think?
“I think it should help. It’s been pretty bad traffic congestion lately,” Barbara Zagen said.
“It sounds good, but we don’t have enough police to police it,” Andrew Coyle said.
With 9,000 residents, Leonia only has a police force of 18 officers. So it’s all hands on deck during rush hour.
Chief Rowe believes the new plan will also help Fort Lee because drivers that usually veer off into Leonia and wind their way through Fort Lee towards the GWB won’t be doing that any longer.
The new restrictions are set to take place on January 15.