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Via Garibaldi 8

Town Sick of Congestion, Bans Non-Residents from Driving on Streets During Rush

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A wrong turn in this town during rush hour could cost you $200

Updated Dec 8; Posted Dec 8

By Sara Jerde

sjerde@njadvancemedia.com

NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Time for some traffic problems in Leonia?

Well, problems at least for drivers who cut through the small Bergen County borough every day to get to the George Washington Bridge, commuters who can make traffic so bad during rush hour that police categorize them like a hurricane.

On Wednesday morning, after emergency repairs on the bridge, traffic in the town was a Category 4, Police Chief Thomas Rowe said.

Town officials admit their solution is extreme. They're about to ban drivers who don't live there, with limited exceptions, from driving on some of their roads for nine hours every day.

If you live or work in Leonia, city hall will issue you a bright yellow tag to hang in your rearview mirror.

Just about anyone else who drives between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on about 60 of the township's residential streets could face a $200 fine. And in case you forget, signs will be posted on the streets, hopefully by mid-January, officials said.

"It's an extreme initiative, I'll be the first to admit that. However the traffic that we deal with is completely extreme," Rowe said.

But is it legal?

Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler said the ordinance has been "thoroughly" researched and the town has "no doubt the ordinances we passed are legal and would withstand any potential legal challenge."

The new rule is legal, albeit an "extreme" form of "traffic calming," Executive Director of the NJ League of Municipalities Michael Darcy said.

"I think they're certainly within their rights to do this," Darcy said. "They aren't just doing this to gate off the community, for example. They're talking about the safety of the residents, emergency vehicles having access. It's a problem there."

Steve Carrellas, director of government and public affairs for the New Jersey chapter of the National Motorists Association, has a different take.

He said he thinks the ordinance is outrageous and that motorists have "a right to public roads subject to reasonable regulations, like speed limits and turn signals."

"This ordinance is illegal and it will be a matter of which force ends its reign of wishful thinking: the courts, political pressure or the expected inability to enforce it, which will be overwhelming," Carrellas said.

He surmised that the new ordinance would, in fact, create more gridlock.

The ACLU-NJ also thinks the new rule is "extreme," and not in a good way.

"This plan gives enormous power to police officers. People who are traveling safely down the street should not be subject to law enforcement. It's intrusive," Jeanne LoCicero, deputy legal director of the ACLU-NJ said. "It's hard to imagine that Leonia could enforce this in a way that didn't discriminate."

The mayor said it was a "leap" to say the rule could lead to discriminatory practices.

"That type of issue being raised is specious in my opinion," Zeigler, the mayor, said.

Located about one mile from the bridge, the town has about 9,200 residents and 18 police officers. When drivers invade the roadways, Rowe says, sometimes up to 15,000 cars on a daily basis, "all of our resources are completely tapped."

"We have a lot of vehicles that leave the highway to the bridge and use Leonia as a bypass or to cut through up to Fort Lee," Rowe said. "This is a public safety issue."

Residents have reported not being able to get out of their driveways for up to an hour at times, he said. And the clogged streets could create an issue for emergency vehicles trying to get through.

Rowe attributes some of the increased traffic in recent years to GPS and phone apps that deviate drivers from jammed highways onto the side streets.

Officials say they are working with Waze to retool its algorithm so that it doesn't show Leonia's side streets as a viable route. A spokesperson for Waze did not immediately return requests for comment.

There are exceptions to the "extreme" rule and some people doing business on Leonia's streets, will be allowed to pass, fine-free.

For example, a driver visiting his or her family and can verify the address of that family member won't be fined. Or a mailman running a route. Or someone delivering a pizza.

The borough's attorney, Brian Chewcaskie, did not immediately return requests for comment. Chewcaskie is also the attorney for Mahwah, a township embroiled in a scandal over two ordinances it introduced that the state's attorney general's office said were discriminatory.

A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs the George Washington Bridge, declined to comment. A spokesperson for the state's Department of Transportation didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sara Jerde may be reached at sjerde@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SaraJerde.

Have information about this story or something else we should be covering? Tell us: nj.com/tips

Source: http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2017/12/towns_extreme_traffic_solution_will_ban_fine_gwb_drivers.html

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4 minutes ago, busdude2 said:

Boycott Leonia don't shop there.  See how fast these stupid measures are stopped.

I can see the pros and cons for this, but I heard that the congestion has become so bad that emergency vehicles can't even get through. That is definitely a problem, and congestion seems to be a problem in several areas of New Jersey where people routinely use residential streets backing up traffic. I had a meeting in Weekhawken last year, and even then the mayor was complaining about how horrendous the traffic was, as were residents.  I could more of this happening if this succeeds.

I happen to be lucky that I didn't encounter too much traffic getting to the meeting nor on my way back to Manhattan, but I know that isn't always the case.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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3 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I can see the pros and cons for this, but I heard that the congestion has become so bad that emergency vehicles can't even get through. That is definitely a problem, and congestion seems to be a problem in several areas of New Jersey where people routinely use residential streets backing up traffic. I had a meeting in Weekhawken last year, and even then the mayor was complaining about how horrendous the traffic was, as were residents.  I could more of this happening if this succeeds.

I happen to be lucky that I didn't encounter too much traffic getting to the meeting nor on my way back to Manhattan, but I know that isn't always the case.

Instead of a fine, they should just add a toll (say, $11.52) to drive through the town during rush hour (unless a resident).

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1 minute ago, quadcorder said:

Instead of a fine, they should just add a toll (say, $11.52) to drive through the town during rush hour (unless a resident).

$200.00 fine versus a toll. It likely wouldn't deter enough people.  I can't say I disagree with them.  Their town is basically being used over and over while these people coming through aren't paying anything and they're causing congestion, pollution and other issues and they don't even live there. Smh

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Just now, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

$200.00 fine versus a toll. It likely wouldn't deter enough people.  I can't say I disagree with them.  Their town is basically being used over and over while these people coming through aren't paying anything and they're causing congestion, pollution and other issues and they don't even live there. Smh

Make the toll high enough and it will drive them back to the highway. (probably doesn't need to be $200 to do that... maybe just $25, maybe just $11) This has the added bonus of being much easier to implement within the law, and much easier to enforce.

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6 minutes ago, quadcorder said:

Make the toll high enough and it will drive them back to the highway. (probably doesn't need to be $200 to do that... maybe just $25, maybe just $11) This has the added bonus of being much easier to implement within the law, and much easier to enforce.

I'd think it'll be quite effective seeing how many people are already pissed off by it. The town just wants these people to stop using their area as a dumping ground if you will.  If it took me an hour to get out of my driveway I'd be pissed, and based on other towns that I've visited for meetings in New Jersey, it's a big problem that various towns are sick of, so I would expect to see more towns enact some sort of measures to calm traffic.  

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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4 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I can see the pros and cons for this, but I heard that the congestion has become so bad that emergency vehicles can't even get through. That is definitely a problem, and congestion seems to be a problem in several areas of New Jersey where people routinely use residential streets backing up traffic. I had a meeting in Weekhawken last year, and even then the mayor was complaining about how horrendous the traffic was, as were residents.  I could more of this happening if this succeeds.

I happen to be lucky that I didn't encounter too much traffic getting to the meeting nor on my way back to Manhattan, but I know that isn't always the case.

It is all about money ask them to give any profits to charity and see how fast they drop this dumb idea. Same as red light cams. We boycotted my town to have them removed and guess what they are gone. Money, money, money.

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Just now, busdude2 said:

It is all about money ask them to give any profits to charity and see how fast they drop this dumb idea. Same as red light cams. We boycotted my town to have them removed and guess what they are gone. Money, money, money.

Of course it is, but tell me this... You're telling me with a straight face that you wouldn't be pissed if you were stuck in your driveway in your town because of some people from other towns causing backups just to get through to a bridge?  The congestion issue I've heard about in several NJ towns and the residents all complain about it as a quality of life issue. Takes longer to get work, takes longer to do everything, and it has to hurt property values.  We both know NJ has high taxes as it is... This all points to one problem... The need for better infrastructure... New Jersey especially needs it. Your new governor has pledged to get NJTransit back online and to improve infrastructure there, so let's see how that pans out.

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No way it was an hour to get out of a driveway. Really do you know how long an hour is ?  Was probably like 5 mins but to make their point it became an hour. Maybe they took a nap while waiting. Just close the street during that time except for buses. But they can't make money then off of this scam.

Edited by busdude2

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3 hours ago, busdude2 said:

No way it was an hour to get out of a driveway. Really do you know how long an hour is ?  Was probably like 5 mins but to make their point it became an hour. Maybe they took a nap while waiting. Just close the street during that time except for buses. But they can't make money then off of this scam.

I can believe it because there have been times when it's taken me 20 - 30 minutes just to go a few blocks.  Congestion is worsening and it's quite noticeable.  It's worse than when the economy was doing well in 2007. We have more people, more cars, but we haven't necessarily made any real infrastructure investments, so this is what you have.  Keep in mind that many people weren't aware of these shortcuts prior to GPS, but now with Google and the like around, the secret is out. 

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Not a bad guess upon reading the thread title (I guessed Fort Lee).....Anyway, Leonia is very.... forgettable.

I'm with busdude on this; it's a pure money grab.... I have never heard of a traffic calming measure than entails banning "non-residents"... Just typing that & re-reading it sounds dumb enough....

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2 hours ago, davemackey said:

Weehawken is about to do the same. Heard news stories about this today.

The traffic in Weehawken is crazy. I had a meeting there and the mayor was complaining about how bad the traffic is. 

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https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/leonia/2018/02/08/traffic-ban-leonia-bad-business-shop-owners-say/316070002/

I feel bad for the ones that opposed it (which is most of them). Most of them do business with people from neighboring towns, but people are concerned that if they get pulled over, and the police officer doesn't accept their reason of trying to do business in the town (which I'm pretty sure was one of the groups exempt from the ban), they'll get a $200 ticket. 

Also, nonresidents can still use Grand Avenue, Fort Lee Road, and Broad Avenue (which are funded by the state). The media is implying that non-residents are banned from all streets in Leonia entirely.

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What Congestion? Are they getting all upset over the cars parking around Bridge Plaza before the George Washington Bridge? or the one caused by the new iPic theater in the area?

Edited by NY1635

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7 hours ago, NY1635 said:

What Congestion? Are they getting all upset over the cars parking around Bridge Plaza before the George Washington Bridge? or the one caused by the new iPic theater in the area?

They're talking about the cars who use Leonia streets to avoid the congestion on I-95 headed to the bridge (e.g. Getting off at Degraw Avenue, then cutting through local streets to get to the bridge). 

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