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Commission Ready to Act Against Blocked Intersections

Times Urban Affairs Writer

Orange County officials would take the first step toward enforcing the state’s new anti-gridlock law under a plan scheduled for a vote Monday by the Orange County Transportation Commission.

The anti-gridlock law, authored by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda), bans motorists from entering an intersection, even on a green light, if doing so will block traffic. The law became effective Jan. 1.

Under a proposal by Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley that is scheduled for a vote Monday, the OCTC would set aside $25,000 to pay for signs that would read: “Do Not Block Intersection.” Five hundred of the signs, at $50 each, would be installed at about 100 key intersections throughout the county, according to Stanley T. Oftelie, the commission’s executive director. Oftelie said the proposal has no opposition among commission members.

The city of Santa Ana already has signs at some heavily traveled intersections, county officials said.

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Blocking an unposted intersection is punishable by a parking citation, but blocking one with warning signs is a so-called moving violation, with higher fines of up to $100. The OCTC has no power to enforce the anti-gridlock law, but commission members want to promote greater awareness and spur enforcement by local police agencies.

Riley recently was angered by a personal experience involving a motorist who blocked his progress through an intersection in south Orange County.

The sign program will “increase driver awareness both of the law and of the problem at the particular intersection,” Riley said in a report to his fellow commission members. “This, of itself, can improve intersection operation. In south Orange County and elsewhere, there are many intersections with high accident rates and gridlock problems because of great volumes of traffic. . . .

“Preliminary investigation indicates there may be several hundred intersections within Orange County and its cities that are subject to ‘jamming’ from cross-directional traffic on a daily basis,” Riley’s report states.

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Under’s Riley plan, county transportation officials will meet with city officials throughout the county to coordinate the anti-gridlock sign program and standardize sign wording.

The first signs could be in place before the end of this year, Oftelie said.


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