Out of Step

DAVID FERRELL, Times Staff Writer

Fremont resident Antonio Valdevera was in town for only a few hours Monday, but it was long enough for him to become a small part of history as Los Angeles police launched a new crackdown on traffic gridlock.

Stepping from the curb at the busy corner of Broadway and 6th Street, a startled Valdevera turned as police whistled him for jaywalking, one of the two minor offenses (driving a car into a blocked intersection is the other) that police are targeting in a citywide enforcement campaign.

The effort stems from the new state anti-gridlock law signed in September by Gov. George Deukmejian, which calls for $50 to $500 fines for motorists who pull into blocked intersections. In Los Angeles, however, police are augmenting the statute with new emphasis on pedestrian violations as well.

"I suppose this is needed with this kind of traffic," a philosophical Valdevera said after signing the $10 citation. "But I've only been here three hours and I'm leaving shortly."

"The law is the same all over the state," traffic officer Keith Noe said. "A lot of time the pedestrian problems are worse than the vehicles."

Indeed, the police approach Monday was to do all that could be done to rid the city's worst intersections of choking traffic.

The targeted areas included Broadway and Temple Street downtown, Hollywood Boulevard and Highland and Western avenues in Hollywood, and Wilshire and Westwood boulevards in Westwood.

Some officers concentrated on intersections in the Miracle Mile, and others manned corners along Ventura, Sepulveda and Burbank boulevards in the San Fernando Valley.

Police said they would not know until today how many tickets were written on the first day of the program.

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