LEONIA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Towns on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge are being ordered to reopen their streets to everyone.
But New Jersey’s attorney general says the ordinances are not legal.
The AG says any such traffic restrictions would need to be implemented in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation.
“There’s attorney general’s guidance on this from 1955, I think, that says you can’t do that to local towns,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.
The towns say traffic has become an increasing problem with the rise of navigation apps.
“The big issue here was the 8,000 incremental vehicles that were being directed onto our side streets by the apps,” Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
The laws that went into effect earlier this year restricted access to approximately 60 of Leonia’s side streets, where for years traffic apps have directed drivers as a shortcut to avoid highway traffic heading to the nearby bridge, clogging up local roads.
The mayor told Rozner the signs restricting traffic are staying put.
“I’m very concerned that the AG is clearly putting politics above public safety,” Zeigler said.
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, who represents Leonia and neighboring towns, said residents can drive through any street whenever they please.
“If I’m running to Leonia and I’m stopped by a police officer, I will kindly say to him or her, ‘my destination is probably none of your business,'” he said.
Leonia residents who have gotten used to less traffic on their side streets hope the mayor prevails.
“It’s safer, less crowded, less congestion,” one man said.
“We feel the difference… As you can see, it’s totally empty and it feels like home again,” another added.
But one Englewood resident told Rozner, “let freedom ring.”
“Didn’t have to worry about checking the clock or checking behind me,” another Englewood woman added.
The mayor said the borough’s attorney sent a letter to the AG on Thursday explaining the law is legal. But residents will have to wait and see if it makes a difference.