They’ve got their town back.
Residents of Leonia, NJ, were dancing in the congestion-free streets Tuesday thanks to a rush-hour ban on out-of-town motorists.
A new local law “has proven to be good,” said Rick Pumo, 73, who has lived in Leonia since 1950.
“I could remember having relatives from London… say the traffic here is worse than London.”
William Kuhl, 70, said driving around town is finally enjoyable again.
“I love it! There’s no traffic,” he exclaimed. “The main concern is we are afraid a fire or ambulance can’t get to where it wants to go. Even if you’re home, it’s all deadlocked.”
Under the law, which legal experts have said will likely face court challenges, some 60 Leonia side streets are now closed to nonresidents daily from 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., unless they can prove they have a legitimate reason to be in the area.
The measure, which went into effect Monday, is meant to combat up to 12,000 additional drivers who, with the help of navigation apps, poured into the area each weekday taking a shortcut to the George Washington Bridge.
Leonia Police Chief Tom Rowe said the law is “working phenomenally well.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am,” he said. “I’m extremely tired but I’m also incredibly ecstatic over what this has done for the traffic in our town.”
Before the new law took effect, side roads would be completely congested with traffic — but that wasn’t the case Tuesday, Rowe said.
“I’m so thankful the different traffic apps have worked with us to solve this issue,” he said.
But, Rowe added, “I don’t recommend a town implement an initiative like this unless you have a justifiable need,” he said. “We are in a very unique situation.”
Katherine Pacicco, a lifelong Leonia resident who owns a jewelry store in town, said she finally feels safe to walk around.
“I can’t tell you how many times I almost got hit by a car,” she said.