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Leonia, New Jersey: Town wants residential streets removed from GPS apps, may fine drivers $200

Posted at 5:41 AM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 05:42:03-05

LEONIA, N.J. (WCBS-TV/CNN) -- A New Jersey town's drastic traffic experiment will take place later this month.

Leonia is a sleepy, little New Jersey town located a quarter-mile from the George Washington Bridge and it is declaring 60 residential streets off-limits to drivers who use them as cut-throughs.

Residents say they are sick of traffic tie-ups caused by commuters short-cutting.

“They should stay on the highway,” said Carlos Gomez, of Leonia. “Why bother us?”

The ordinance establishes a $200 fine for short-cutters. But Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler said it’s really all about those apps.

“The main reason and driver behind this legislation is to get the navigational apps like Waze, Google Maps and others to remove our side streets from their algorithms and not offer them as recommendations,” he said.

“They will do that once this legislation takes effect.”

The mayor said the legislation gives the navigational apps no choice but to warn drivers that cutting through could cut into their wallets.

A spokesperson for Waze did not immediately return CBS2’s calls. But in the past, it has not opposed such tactics to remove local roads.

Zeigler said drivers without yellow tags proving residency could find themselves stopped by one of Leonia’s 18 police officers and questioned.

“The first thing the officer is going to say is, ‘Do you have business in Leonia?'” the mayor said.

“We do truly believe that there’s no issue of legality here,” he said.

Zeigler said the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a town’s right to control access to roads as long as residents and emergency vehicles are not denied access.

It remains to be seen if Leonia’s approach to traffic control and getting off the apps will spread problems to surrounding towns, forcing those places to follow its lead.

The new law only applies to Leonia’s residential side streets, and not the town’s three major roads.

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