By Aidan Gardiner, Jordan Davidson, and Jill Colvin
DNAinfo.com New York Staff
INWOOD — Drivers entering upper Manhattan during rush hour Thursday morning grew frustrated as emergency rules created a confusing traffic jam in Inwood.
On Wednesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared that vehicles with fewer than three passengers wouldn’t be allowed to cross any East River bridges into Manhattan.
The rules were laid down in an effort to limit the amount of traffic on vital roadways, in light of limited subway service throughout the city following Hurricane Sandy, Bloomberg said.
Police established a checkpoint at Dyckman Street and Riverside Drive where they intersect with the Henry Hudson Parkway, which feeds into the West Side Highway.
There was no checkpoint on the Bronx side of the Henry Hudson Bridge to prevent single-occupancy cars from entering Manhattan. Instead, cops established a checkpoint a half mile down the parkway where they forced cars with fewer than three occupants off at the Dyckman Street exit.
Meanwhile, cops turned away those cars already in Manhattan trying to merge onto the parkway there.
As a result, traffic backed up along Dyckman Street between Staff Street and Seaman Avenue, resulting in an overflow on the notoriously crowded Inwood streets.
Police on the scene apologized to angry drivers and didn’t know why they were turning away traffic already in Manhattan, saying that they were following the procedures they’d been given.
There no checkpoint on the Broadway Bridge from the Bronx into Manhattan, nor was there there one at the entrance to Harlem River Drive on the east side.
Frustrated commuters took to the Inwood Community Group on Facebook to vent their anger and look for answers.
“This brilliant plan was supposed to be to prevent people from coming INTO Manhattan with less than 3 people in the car. I'm already in Manhattan,” Terrie Waters wrote. “The most infuriating part about being prevented from getting on the H. Hudson was the cop yelling at me, ‘We told you all about this yesterday — it was all over the news.’ No it wasn't!”
Bloomberg responded to commuter frustrations during a Thursday morning press conference by apologizing for the confusion but insisting the rules were still necessary.
“I know it’s annoying and I know it’s inconvenient,” he said. “If we had some people in the wrong places, it was our first day getting it going. Hopefully it’ll be better tomorrow. You have to bear with us.”
The new traffic rules will be in place Friday and as many days as officials deem necessary, Bloomberg added.
“We’re all in this together. We’re desperately trying to help people,” he said. “We have an enormous number of people working as hard as they can.”