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Weehawken Joins Leonia In Closing Its Side Streets To Commuters

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Another northern New Jersey town is closing its side streets to commuters.

Leonia recently put road restrictions into place. Now, Weehawken wants to stop drivers from cutting through to avoid Lincoln Tunnel traffic.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, Hackensack Plank Road and Pleasant Avenue are a well-known cut-through to get to I-495. But starting Tuesday, drivers won't be allowed to make that right turn between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. unless they are a Weehawken resident.

"I go this way because it's kind of a cut-through to get out of Hoboken, and most people get stuck on that 495, you know, nightmare," one man said.

"Some of the other ways could take at least 45 minutes to make it a quarter mile, half a mile," another added. 

Residents who live along the stretch are looking forward to the restriction.

"Quite a few people have been clipped right here on these turns. So I think from a safety perspective, it's the right thing to do," Richard Pinal said.

Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said, similar to what's happening in Leonia, traffic apps have put more vehicles on their side streets.

"We were noticing traffic where we never had it before, because of Waze," he said.

"For a community with a tunnel, like we have the Lincoln Tunnel, or Leonia has to deal with the George Washington Bridge, it's really, really problematic," Turner added. "In the morning, we had 217 cars all of a sudden going down the street to avoid traffic lights."

The mayor said they first put a restriction on Shippen Street and Gregory Avenue from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

"[Now] there's no commuters in the morning. They have to go back the traditional way," he said.

But in Leonia, there's backlash. Some businesses claim the road restrictions are hurting their bottom line.

"Very slow. Everybody complain," one employee told CBS2's Meg Baker.

"It's really bad for business," another said.

Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler said it's due to miscommunication, but he's got a fix.

"We are changing some signage," he said. "Our signage right now says, 'residents exempt.' What our signage should have said is, 'residents and Leonia destinations exempt.'"

In Weehawken, the mayor said that is not an issue, because the areas with restrictions are mostly residential. He said it all comes down to safety.

"In certain locations where the commuter traffic completely shuts down the neighborhood, the police have been complaining that emergency vehicles haven't been able to get through," Turner said.

Soon, you won't be getting through during certain hours unless you have a resident sticker.

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