Jackson County

Because of this, golf cart drivers in East Ocean Springs won’t be able to drive to town

Golf carts, such as these from Gulf Coast Golf Carts in Diamondhead, will be allowed on some Ocean Springs streets starting May 31.
Golf carts, such as these from Gulf Coast Golf Carts in Diamondhead, will be allowed on some Ocean Springs streets starting May 31. jmitchell@sunherald.com

They know it will cut off neighborhoods in east Ocean Springs, but aldermen said Tuesday it’s best not to have golf carts on busy Government Street.

Aldermen told the Sun Herald they likely will restrict golf carts and slow vehicles to streets with a speed limit of 30 mph or less, which means riders would not be able to take Government Street into town.

For the large subdivisions out east, that cuts off the route to downtown festivals, but Alderman Rob Blackman pointed out that owners can always trailer the carts and take them into town for events.

Ocean Springs and Long Beach are the latest cities to seek local and private legislation from the state that will allow golf carts on city streets. Both cities had leaders in Jackson last week talking with legislators.

Blackman said Ocean Springs could get their bill passed in as soon as two to three weeks. Then the city will hammer out the details of a local ordinance that best suits Ocean Springs.

Last month, city leaders considered allowing slow vehicles on streets with a 35 mph speed limit to give cart riders out east more travel options.

Alderman Rickey Authement, who originally proposed the measure, said golf carts go 17 to 24 mph and allowing them on roads with a 35 mph speed limit could cause public safety concerns. By restricting them to streets of 30 mph or less, they will be keeping them mostly within neighborhoods.

Subdivisions like Bienville and Heron Bayou on the east side of town are connected and people can ride their carts from one to the other, but Wards 5 and 6 and part of Ward 4 would not have a clear path into town.

Blackman said he had supported the higher-speed limit streets, then rethought it.

“Those curvy areas on Government Street are not a good place for golf carts,” Blackman said. “This is a compromise on my part. I didn’t want to exclude my residents but they can hop on a cart and go to a neighbor, just not on Handshaw or Government.”

There’s just no minor artery out east.

Alderman Mike Impey said the 35 mph limit would have allowed travel the length of Government Street, and he could not support that.

Impey wants to see the carts somewhat restricted. He said 30 mph streets helps, “but I think we still have some work to do.”

Pascagoula got its golf cart ordinance in the early fall, before festival time, and city spokesman Frank Corder said it has worked well. The city is laid out differently, however, and people can get from most neighborhoods to downtown on streets that work with the law.

He said even the neighborhoods north of U.S. 90 have a route under the high-rise bridge.

Corder said there have been no complaints by the Police Department and people have been abiding by the ordinance.