WEEHAWKEN, NJ — A second New Jersey town bordering on New York City is closing off its streets to nonresidents during rush hour.
Leonia, which is near the George Washington Bridge, started its ban first. Now Weehawken, which is near the Lincoln Tunnel, is following in Leonia's footsteps. Officials there say commuters looking for short cuts to and from the tunnel are jamming up local streets.
Police will restrict access to popular side streets in Weehakwen. One driver estimated it will take an added 20 minutes to get home each day without the ability to cut through Weehakwen.
But local residents are excited to see their streets cleared. Longtime Weehakwen resident Magaly Reyes lives at an intersection often flooded with commuters.
"I think it's a very good idea from the mayor," Reyes said. "I'm happy about it."
The town may face legal challenges over the change. In Leonia, where town officials based the decision on a 1977 Supreme Court decision related to municipal powers and commuter parking, there's already a lawsuit in play.
Attorney Jaqueline Rosa is taking the town to court over the change.
"If you look at the state laws, they restrict what a municipality can do. If you're closing up a street, that has a consequence, or effect, on a state highway," Rosa said. "You can't do it without the approval of the State Commissioner, which neither Weehawken or Leonia has gotten.
But until a court says otherwise, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner says he is standing by his decision.