Aransas County Navigation District (ACND) commissioners, at their regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 7, approved the proposed traffic plan for traffic and parking controls during Seafair. The Rockport Police Department (RPD) presented it originally at the district’s Aug. 16 meeting.
The plan calls for closing Laurel Street during Seafair, as in year’s past, as well as Chamber Street (between the festival grounds and the Texas Maritime Museum).
(Note: Commissioners, at their July 19 meeting, approved closing Chamber Street, but not Laurel Street leading up to and during Seafair. Commissioner Tommy Moore cast the dissenting vote.)
RPD Patrol Commander Larry Sinclair said the City has three message boards and will have extra personnel working that weekend to help with traffic control. The City will also place traffic cones and barricades where needed.
Sinclair noted the RPD is also sending a request to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for two additional message boards, which would be placed on Business SH 35.
(Note: The City can’t place anything in state highway rights-of-way without TxDOT’s permission.)
There will be controlled access for pedestrians crossing northbound Business SH 35.
“We (RPD and ACND) are in strong agreement that the area around Rockport Harbor not be used for (festival) parking,” said Sinclair.
Access to Rockport Beach will be routed through the harbor district.
He thanked the ACND, as well as the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce (RFCC), for including the RPD in early planning, which will lead to a safer event for all.
Sinclair said the proposed traffic plan can be expanded or contracted, as needed (i.e. – the Sunday crowd is historically smaller than the Saturday crowd).
An area for VIP parking, which in the past was at the intersection of Laurel and Seabreeze Drive, still needs to be determined.
ACND Chairman Malcolm Dieckow said, “What we asked for was a comprehensive plan, and we think we got it.”
Commissioner Judy Vlasek asked when barricades will go up, blocking off Laurel and Chamber streets. The carnival was to be relocated on Chamber. Its previous location was near the entrance to Rockport Beach, next to the Bay Education Center.
(Note: After the meeting it was learned the carnival might not be able to operate on Chamber due to power lines. Sinclair said moving the carnival from its usual location is better, in terms of overall safety, so children aren’t crossing the street between the fairgrounds and carnival site.)
Sinclair said the RPD will work with the ACND and RFCC regarding when barricades will be put in place.
“The main thing is to keep Seabreeze open (for through traffic),” he said.
Harbor Master Keith Barrett said message boards and/or signs need to be placed on Business SH 35 providing information about how to access Rockport Beach (down Seabreeze, off Austin/Broadway streets).
Sinclair noted the RPD’s hands are tied until it hears from TxDOT.
“Keith, (RFCC President/CEO) Diane (Probst), and I will work very close,” said Sinclair.
Prior to approving the plan, Moore said, “I applaud all the working together, and cooperation.”
(Note: A diagram outlining the traffic plan will be published closer to Seafair, which is set for Oct. 8-9.)