Getting new golf cart crossings

Monday, August 25, 2014

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a way of getting around town that doesn't cost you a penny in gas.

As Columbia County grows, so does the use of golf carts. Now, the county is working with GADOT to pave the way to more of your favorite spots.

"Do you have a golf cart?" News 12's Christie Ethridge asked Lee Conner.
"I certainly do," he replied.

If you live in Columbia County, that answer is becoming more common than not.

"Oh a lot of people are driving golf carts. A lot of people," Conner said.

As the county explodes with growth, the streets are getting busier, and it's prompting people to use other modes of transportation.

"Streets are crowded. If you can use a golf cart to move from your neighborhood to a local shopping area, you don't have to get into the traffic with your car. You don't have to buy gas," Columbia County Engineering Services' Matt Schlachter said.

It's getting so popular, the county has started sending fliers to remind people where they can and cannot drive.

"In Columbia County, you can use it on roads that are 35 miles per hour or less. State routes are not part of that. So, to cross over Columbia or Washington Road is actually against the law," Schlachter explains.

That means people in Camelot can drive around their subdivision, but crossing Washington Road at the traffic light at the neighborhood's entrance is breaking the law.

"The folks in Camelot want to come over to the post office, the Kroger shopping center, or the park. Unfortunately, they can't do it," Schlachter said.

So, the county's working to change that. Last week they met with DOT to get a required permit to make certain spots designated golf cart crossing.

"That would help," Conner admitted. "There are no gas stations on this side, so if you need air in your tires, or things like that, you need to cross over."

There's no cost to apply for a permit, just what it takes to erect the golf cart crossing signs if the permit is approved.

"We are the golf cart capital of the world, Augusta, Columbia County. We've got E-Z-GO, we've got Club Car, Tomberlin. We've got a lot of manufacturers here that are building, so we want to be able to use their product," Schlachter said.

Leaders are still deciding on all the locations. The permit process takes several weeks, so it could be a few more months before crossing some of those big roads is legal.

Right next door, Richmond County is working on a new golf cart ordinance, too.

You might remember in April Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill that lets the local leaders make the rules. The Convention and Visitor's Bureau says they do have a draft of a new ordinance, but it has not been made public yet.

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