Keith Connors

Weekdays 10a-3p

Why did the Pasco County golf cart cross the road? Because it wanted to get a ticket! The residents of Gulf Harbors in New Port Richey, Florida are facing a new obstacle in their quest to cross U.S. 19 and enjoy the revitalized downtown. Recently, the city installed signs prohibiting golf cart crossings at several key intersections along the busy roadway, denying access to golf carts and residents on the west side of U.S. 19.

Skip Geiger, a representative of the Gulf Harbors community, addressed the New Port Richey City Council last week with a plea for help. Despite several years of effort to get his community approved for golf carts, they are now unable to cross U.S. 19 to visit downtown.

Mayor Rob Marlowe explained that only the local district for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has the authority to approve a golf cart crossing on U.S. 19. However, permission has not yet been granted by the district.

City Manager Debbie Manns suggested that residents reach out to their state legislators, who may be able to persuade the state roads agency. Stephen Blanchard, a disabled resident who needs a golf cart to get around, called on the FDOT to help make the crossings safe. Mayor Marlowe agreed, stating that the state’s help is necessary to ensure the safety of golf carts and their users.

Pasco County Commissioners also discussed the issue last week, with Commissioner Kathryn Starkey confirming that she had received complaints from Gulf Harbors residents. The county attorney, Jeffrey Steinsnyder, suggested that the city and county could have better luck if they ask for help together.

While U.S. 19 is being made safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, the FDOT has not yet made golf cart crossings a priority. Two proposals have been discussed in the past to allow golf carts to cross U.S. 19, including a trail under the Cotee River Bridge and a pedestrian bridge near Marine Parkway. Both projects require funding to be built.

The residents of Gulf Harbors are facing a new obstacle in their quest to visit the revitalized downtown of New Port Richey, but hope remains. With the help of their state legislators and the FDOT, they may be able to find a safe solution that allows them to cross U.S. 19 and enjoy their community. TBT