State legislature to discuss golf carts

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2021

At Smithfield’s request, state Del. Emily Brewer (R-64) is sponsoring a bill to allow golf carts to travel on roads with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour within the town’s limits.

Currently, state law only permits golf carts on roads where the speed limit is 25 mph or less, and bars them from crossing any road where the speed limit is 35 mph or greater.

Per the language of Brewer’s bill, golf carts would be allowed to cross any highway within Smithfield’s town limits, regardless of the posted speed limit, so long as the Virginia Department of Transportation marks a golf cart crossing.

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Town Councilwoman Renee Rountree, who chairs the Town Council’s Public Safety Committee, introduced the idea at an August 2020 Town Council meeting. Allowing residents of Smithfield’s Cypress Creek and Moonefield developments to access the downtown area via golf cart could boost the town’s meals and sales tax revenues, she said. Councilwoman Valerie Butler, however, who also sits on the town’s Public Safety Committee, has expressed reservations about the plan — particularly if a golf cart were to travel from Cypress Creek to the downtown area by crossing the Route 10 Bypass, which has tractor-trailer traffic and a 55 mph speed limit.

In August 2019, a Maryland man on a golf cart stolen from Cypress Creek Golf Course was killed in a crash on the Route 10 bypass. Police said the golf cart had no lights and was eastbound in the highway’s westbound lane around just before 1 a.m. when the cart and a sedan collided. Police said alcohol was involved on the part of both drivers.

The city of Franklin, roughly 30 miles south of Smithfield, has also expressed an interest in being included in the bill.

As of Jan. 15, the bill had been referred from the House of Delegates Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns to its Committee on Transportation.

Nate Delesline III, staff writer, contributed to this story.