New Jersey town to close streets to non-residents during rush hour

LEONIA, New Jersey (WABC) -- Thanks to apps like Waze and Google maps, traffic in one New Jersey town has grown to what is described as a category five level, meaning complete gridlock. Officials say it's all because the popular traffic apps steer traffic onto Leonia roads whenever there is a major traffic delay heading to the George Washington Bridge.

A 90-minute delay due to emergency construction on the bridge Wednesday morning sent motorists scrambling to find short cuts, and Leonia took the brunt of the diverted traffic. Officials say days like this make it impossible for local traffic and emergency vehicles to get through.

Leonia is just two miles from the bridge, and town officials say they must take action now.

"The law is on our side," Police Chief Tom Rowe said.

So beginning January 15, the town will close off access to local streets during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Fines for violators will be increased, and residents will have tags on their vehicles giving them access to closed streets.

The police chief said out-of-town traffic led to the tragic death of a pedestrian right in the middle of the downtown business district, and that the victim was dragged more than 70 feet to her death on one of those high volume traffic days.

The nearby town of Fort Lee, which sits in the shadows of the George Washington Bridge, already limits traffic on local streets for motorists heading to the bridge.

"Stay on the highway," Rowe said. "We are doing this to keep our residents safe."

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