Leonia officials to close side roads to GWB to non-residents

Posted: Updated:
LEONIA -

Commuters looking to avoid heavy traffic on their way to the George Washington Bridge will soon have to find a new alternate route.

Leonia officials approved a measure to close dozens of streets leading to the bridge to drivers who do not live or work in town. They are doing this to control the heavy traffic in Leonia during the morning and evening rush hours.

Town officials say that smartphone traffic apps like Waze are rerouting drivers through Leonia when traffic near the bridge is backed up. Councilman Greg Makroulakus says that it is making things dangerous in town.

“It puts us at a standstill,” he says. “You can’t get emergency equipment around. You can’t get police to respond to calls.”

The restrictions impact 60 side streets in town. Only residents who live on those streets will be permitted to travel on them during the morning and evening commute. Traffic signs will be posted by mid-January on the restricted streets. Residents and some people who work in town will get a tag or decal for their car.

The mayor of neighboring Fort Lee says that the two towns worked together on the plan to make sure Fort Lee doesn’t get inundated with the runoff traffic.

“If it backfires and doesn't work out and creates a public safety issue either for them or us, we'll be back in communication with each other,” says Mayor Mark Sokolich.

But some commuters say that they are a little disappointed by the new plan.

“I have to get to northern Bergen County so this is really the only way through because you don't want to go near Fort Lee in the morning,” says Ridgefield resident Joe Picone. “If you’ve got to come through this way I don't know which way to go."

Leonia officials are working with Google in getting these street updates on the Waze app.

Drivers who violate the restrictions could face a $200 fine.

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