ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There’s a growing case of road ban backlash in Bergen County.
It’s only one week Leonia started restricting 60 side streets to borough residents during the morning and evening rush, and people from a neighboring town say they’re being treated like outsiders.
Three major roads Leonia does not own are always open, and the police chief says without question the initiative is working to shut out those trying to shortcut to the George Washington Bridge.
Some neighbors, like Englewood resident Angelina Rivera, say it’s turned their daily routine upside down.
“I typically would go to the bakery before work,” she told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner. “I go to the cleaners, the bank, everything.”
For the past week, that hasn’t been the case.
“Last week I tried, twice,” she said. “I was denied.”
Dr. Andrew Rodgers commutes from Englewood to Fort Lee, and says he’s had to push patient appointments back two hours to start at 10 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.
“I totally changed my life,” he said. “I have enough to worry about with managed care and HMOs, I have to worry about the police officer knowing who I am so he can let me through.”
Rodgers and Rivera are two of many residents who live along a part of Englewood that is right next to a Leonia street — Englewood Road. Residents say a trip that would normally have taken three minutes now takes 45 minutes because of the traffic ban.
“This is the direct route for us,” Englewood resident Diane Jansen said. “As a local I’m being treated as if I’m commuting over the George Washington Bridge.”
Making matters worse, they say people being turned away from Leonia have started clogging their roads.
“In the 10 minutes we’ve been here you’ve seen two dozen cars go on a street otherwise would have no purpose going down,” Englewood Councilman Michael Cohen reports. “They’re angrily coming down this block and causing issues on this block.”
Mayor Frank Huttle told residents in one part of the borough that he had a verbal agreement with Leonia that they could enter the borough as they please. The mayor and the Englewood police chief didn’t respond to CBS2’s request for comment.
Leonia Police Chief Thomas Rowe denied Englewood residents’ allegations.
“The residents of Englewood and Fort Lee are completely permitted to use that road,” he said. “I’ve spoken to chiefs in both towns. The residents of the towns may use that road.”
Residents say they’ve complained to the mayor, but for now it appears their complaints are falling on deaf ears.