Weehawken looks to curb congestion with residents-only rule

Posted: Updated:

Commuters who travel into New York City know that the area near the Lincoln Tunnel helix is chronically congested around rush hour. Now the traffic has prompted another North Jersey town to close some streets to commuters who aren't residents.

On most Sundays, Hackensack Plank Road in Weehawken is quiet, but when the workweek arrives, traffic is usually backed up at the light on Pleasant Avenue.

"The traffic is so heavy that it shuts down the roads and emergency vehicles have no access," said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner.

Travelers leaving work in Hudson County and heading west get off a congested Interstate 495. Led by traffic-avoiding apps like Waze, drivers try to shave time off their commute by taking an alternate route through Weehawken.

"People make the right turn on Pleasant, go down Pleasant Avenue to make the left turn to go out to 495. It could take 20 minutes to get up the hill. In the meantime, the intersection's blocked," Turner saud.

So Weehawken is taking action. Starting Tuesday afternoon, only town residents can make that right turn. Police will be looking for the parking placards that the mayor said all residents own. Drivers without a card who attempt to make the turn between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. could get a ticket.

Leonia enacted a similar ban earlier this year, closing 60 side streets to non-residents headed toward the George Washington Bridge. Turner said Weehawken's afternoon ban was inspired by Leonia's action, but Leonia is facing a lawsuit.

Reaction to the plan from Weehawken residents seemed to be mixed.

"Being a person who lives right here, I deal with the traffic consistently. I don't think it's going to be beneficial in the long run. I think it's just going to cause more problems," said Weehawken resident Faith Mazure.

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