By ADMIR DURAKOVIC
(TEANECK) – High volumes of traffic through Leonia, during commutes to and from work in New York City, have left the town’s roads congested.
On Jan. 15, a law passed that restricted access to approximately 60 side streets from the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The only drivers allowed on these streets during the specified times are Leonia residents and people driving to and from Leonia businesses.
Broad and Grand avenues and Fort Lee Road are the three main streets that run through Leonia. Broad Avenue hosts a majority of the town’s businesses, and Fort Lee Road is the alternate New Jersey Turnpike exit that leads to the George Washington Bridge.
These three streets have remained open at all times to anyone driving through Leonia, but confusion has arisen over this new rule and who is allowed where and at what time.
An employee at the Miga Korean restaurant on Broad Avenue described business in the few weeks following the new restrictions as “very slow,” according to CBS. She said customers from out of town have been complaining about the driving restrictions put in place to reduce traffic on local streets while looking for a shortcut to the George Washington Bridge.
“The other roads are not closed, they are open for residents 24/7, they are open for non-residents coming to or from Leonia,” Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler said. “We are changing some signage, our signs right now say ‘residents exempt,’ what they should say is ‘residents and Leonia destinations exempt.’”
“On a normal day, we get 4,000 vehicles on Fort Lee Road going to the George Washington Bridge,” Zeigler said. “If there is any problem at all, either on the highways of New York or at the bridge, we get 12,000 vehicles.”
The massive number of cars driving through Leonia due to traffic jams on the highway have caused serious problems in the past.
“Three years ago, a person was killed at an intersection where there were 90-minute delays to the bridge, so you can’t have that happen again,” Leonia Police Chief Tom Rowe said.
Traffic phone applications, such as Waze, have directed drivers to drive through Leonia’s side streets as a shortcut to the George Washington Bridge. Ziegler has said the aim of this new traffic law is to deter these traffic applications from directing drivers onto local streets.