City, TxDOT talk highway golf cart signs




A golf cart driver makes a legal right-hand turn north onto Alister Street. If he turned left to the south it would be onto State Highway 361 and illegal. Critics of the city’s no golf cart signs on the highway claim they are not sufficient to keep the vehicles away from it. Port Aransas and Texas Department of Transportation officials are discussing plans to install similar signs on the highway. Staff photo by David Webb

A golf cart driver makes a legal right-hand turn north onto Alister Street. If he turned left to the south it would be onto State Highway 361 and illegal. Critics of the city’s no golf cart signs on the highway claim they are not sufficient to keep the vehicles away from it. Port Aransas and Texas Department of Transportation officials are discussing plans to install similar signs on the highway. Staff photo by David Webb

A plan to install warning signs on State Highway 361 about golf carts not being allowed on it is still underway, but it is unlikely to be accomplished this year, according to a Port Aransas official.

Planning and Development Director Rick Adams said city officials are in discussion with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials about an “all-encompassing signage project” that would address multiple issues on the highway that include the Port Aransas ferry landing. City officials began discussing the project years ago with TxDOT, but Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath in 2017 and a turnover of employees at the state agency interrupted the discussion, he said.

“We agreed to get back together,” he said. “We are back in serious discussion.”

A TxDOT official told the South Jetty a year ago that the city would be fabricating and installing the signs on the highway south of Avenue G at locations the state agency would designate.

Adams said that TxDOT officials did authorize locations for placement of the signs on the highway, but Port Aransas officials considered what was proposed would be ineffective. The signs placement would be too far away to be noticed, he said. “It wouldn’t have helped that much,” he said.

Adams noted that the city has erected signs on several side streets at their intersection with the highway warning cart drivers not to get on the highway, but the problem persists. The broad sidewalk on the west side of the highway attracts cart drivers, but that also is illegal.

The cart issue will be discussed by the city council on Wednesday, July 6 when it holds its priorities and strategies goals workshop meeting.

Chief of Police Scott Burroughs called carts “a large part of our law enforcement focus.” Activity reports published by the department reveal cart accidents and citations being issued multiple times every week. The most common infractions are overloading, underage driving and driving on the highway, Burroughs noted.

A cart driven by a 15-year-old boy rolled as it turned a corner in Old Town on Wednesday, June 22, and on June 23 a police car struck a golf cart On the Beach when the driver made a U-turn directly in front of the officer, police said. Yet another cart carrying several teenagers overturned in the middle of State Highway 361 in the southbound lanes on Wednesday, June 29, though it did not appear that anything more than minor injuries resulted.

It is not uncommon for cart drivers to be found intoxicated when they are stopped or have an accident.

Burroughs said he thinks signs on the highway could help, and he noted that when carts are caught on State Highway 361, the drivers’ excuses include that their GPS sent them on the route, they didn’t know it was illegal or that they didn’t know it was a highway.

“I don’t think people do it intentionally,” Burroughs said. “I think it is mostly ignorance on their part.”

A city ordinance requires that rented carts display stickers warning that it is illegal to operate carts on the highway, and the companies’ employees say they advise the customers of that verbally as well.

State laws prohibit carts from operating on any road where the speed limit exceeds 35 mph, and the Texas Legislature addressed the issue in the 86th session in 2019 because of the proliferation of the non-highway vehicles in coastal towns and the increase in accidents. The law known as House Bill 1548 authorizes counties and municipalities to ban carts on highways.

Port Aransas began requiring the registration of golf carts in 2010. That year the city registered 761. By the end of 2021, the number grew to 5,352, and for 2022 4,512 have already registered.

Growth also occurred in the number of citations issued to golf cart drivers between the summer of 2020 and 2021 with a rise from 332 to 405 for the respective years.

One response to “City, TxDOT talk highway golf cart signs”

  1. Perrie Marrs says:

    No Golf Carts painted directly on the pavement. (Four foot red circle with slash. Image of a golf cart in the middle.) Not difficult or expensive. The current 8″x10″ signs are a joke.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.