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Date of Issue: July 28, 2010

Holmes Beach cart crossing gets attention

A Holmes Beach golf-cart path could connect the neighborhood south of Grassy Point to East Bay Drive businesses. The path would run west from the Avenue C/Grassy Point entrance on public land near Mike Norman Realty to the intersection of East Bay and Gulf drives. Islander Photo: Nick Walter

Golf-cart drivers near East Bay Drive might see some relief from a prohibition against golf carts on major streets in Holmes Beach.

A proposed golf-cart crossing would involve installing a path/boardwalk that would begin at the northernmost end of Avenue C behind Mike Norman Realty at the entrance to Grassy Point Preserve and go westbound on preserve land to the intersection of Gulf and East Bay drives.

The path would cross the intersection, allowing golf-cart drivers to access the businesses along East Bay Drive.

The project is third on the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2010 enhancement project priorities list for Manatee County.

The first on the list is a $300,000 project at Rye Preserve Trail from the preserve to Lake Manatee State Park.

The second, a $630,000 project, adds trails with rails to the Willow-Ellenton trail.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said the Holmes Beach golf-cart pathway would allow those in the south end of the city to legally drive their golf carts from residential neighborhoods to the Publix and other businesses.

But that $90,000 project, said MPO representatives and Bohnenberger at the July 19 Island Transportation Planning Organization meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall, might be a year away.

“That would be super if they could do that,” said John Evans, a Holmes Beach resident who used to drive his golf cart two blocks to Publix. “But the police say we can’t do that anymore.”

Golf carts in Holmes Beach are prohibited on major streets, including Gulf, Marina and East Bay drives and Manatee Avenue. In addition, a driver must be over the age of 14 to operate a golf cart on other “side” streets. Carts also are not allowed on beaches.

State law requires on-road carts to have Florida Department of Transportation-approved tires, a rearview mirror, reflectors, efficient brakes and reliable steering. If operated at night, the cart must also have head lights, brake lights, turn signals and a windshield.

In addition, Florida law states operation of a golf cart is prohibited unless a county or municipality has determined that “carts may safely travel on or cross the public road or street, considering factors including the speed, volume and character of motor vehicle traffic using the road or street.”

Florida also allows for carts to cross a state road after the DOT “has reviewed and approved the location and design of the crossing and any traffic-control devices needed for safety purposes.”

Bohnenberger said the golf-cart policies in Holmes Beach regarding driving on major streets changed about five years ago. Prior to that, he said, golf-cart owners had to live within a mile of a golf course in order to use golf carts on streets.

Evans said prior to that time, when his children would arrive on vacation, he used to pack up his golf cart with rafts and drive to White Avenue with his kids to play on the beach. “Can’t do that anymore either,” Evans said. “There are a lot of senior citizens here who don’t drive and they ought to at least be able to take their golf cart to Publix with a golf cart.”