LEONIA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – It has been almost three weeks since Leonia, New Jersey closed its local streets to cut-through traffic to the George Washington Bridge, and the ban is facing backlash from businesses.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, they say the ban is hurting their bottom line.
An employee at Miga Korean restaurant on Broad Avenue had two words to describe business in the past few weeks: “Very slow.”
“Everybody complain,” she told Baker.
She said customers from out of town have been complaining about the driving restrictions put in place to reduce cut-through traffic on local streets and the GWB.
A hairdresser at Han’s Beauty Salon, who didn’t want to show her face, told Baker people are scared they will get a ticket for coming into Leonia.
“It’s really bad for business,” she said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s like every block… And all the customers are complaining about his issue, and they have to fix.”
A man named Phillip at Jonel Dry Cleaners said he’s making more deliveries than ever before, so people don’t have to drive into town, which is costing him more gas money.
The owner of BB Baker and Café said sales are down at least 30 percent.
Most businesses in Leonia sit on Broad Street, and the mayor wants to be clear — the main road is open 24/7. He said the issue is miscommunication.
“The other roads are not closed. They are open for residents 24/7. They are open for non-residents coming to or from Leonia as a destination,” Mayor Judah Zeigler said.
So if you need to get your nails done or meet a friend for lunch, you will not get a violation.
“We are changing some signage,” the mayor added. “Our signage right now says, ‘residents exempt.’ What our signage should have said is, ‘residents and Leonia destinations exempt.’”
Zeigler said getting pulled over is highly unlikely. But if you do, simply explain to the officer where you are going or coming from, and you will not be asked for your license or given a ticket.
When asked if he’s worried traffic-cutters will pretend to be going to a business, he said the primary purpose of the ordinance is to stop GPS apps from recommending local streets. A few cheaters will not negate the positive effects.
Sixty side streets are closed to non-residents during the morning and evening rush from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Three major roads, Fort Lee, Broad and Grand avenues, are always open.