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Out-Of-Town Drivers Banned From Using Leonia As Shortcut To George Washington Bridge

LEONIA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Leonia, New Jersey is cutting down on out-of-town drivers using side streets to access the George Washington Bridge.

The new law that went into effect Monday restricts access to approximately 60 side streets, where for years traffic apps have directed drivers as a shortcut to avoid highway traffic heading to the nearby bridge, clogging up local roads.

"On a normal day, we get 4,000 vehicles on Fort Lee Road going to the George Washington Bridge," said Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler. "If there is any problem at all, either on the highways of New York or at the bridge, we get 12,000 vehicles."

"Speeding cars," one resident told 1010 WINS' John Montone. "There's a lot of speeding cars up there going up the hill trying to beat the light, beat the traffic."

Loretta Thrower just found out about the new rule as she was driving through Monday.

"I think it's ridiculous but I understand we do have heavy congestion, so I do understand people are frustrated in their neighborhoods and their homes," she told CBS2's Janelle Burrell.

Leonia residents and people who work in town are being issued yellow tags.

Non-residents are restricted to the three major roads Leonia does not own from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week unless they work or have business in the neighborhood. Violators will be slapped with a $200 fine.

Zeigler said so far, 4,000 yellow tags identifying residents who may use the streets have been given out.

Meanwhile, crossing guards are hoping it alleviates the congestion.

"We have to go between the cars sometimes to cross the people, especially children," said crossing guard Mercedes Pernetti. "It's not safe."

Alongside all of the traffic on Fort Lee Road is a sign warning drivers of what's ahead and the fine they'll be facing if they're found in violation.

"You have to understand, 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," said Leonia Police Chief Tom Rowe.

The ordinance banning the use of Leonia as a shortcut was approved by Leonia's city council last month.

Police say the first two weeks will be a grace period and they'll give warnings to drivers. After that, $200 tickets will be issued.

To check current traffic conditions, click here.

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