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After close calls on taxiway, Horseshoe Bay to warn cars with signs and gate

Air Park Street taxiway in Horseshoe Bay

Federal Aviation Administration reflective markings soon will be on Air Park Street in Horseshoe Bay to signal this road is an aircraft taxiway. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Air Park Street in Horseshoe Bay is a taxiway for planes, but because it is not properly marked, cars have been using it, too. That will change now that the Horseshoe Bay City Council voted to put up proper signage and build a $6,000 gate blocking Stall Out Street where it intersects with Air Park. The action came at the council’s regular meeting Tuesday, July 20.

Six hangars line Air Park Street, which runs parallel to the aircraft runway and is a taxiway. Three parts of Air Park will receive signs and street markings.  

In Area 1, people will see three signs: 

  • Flashing “Aircraft taxiway, vehicles must yield”
  • Not A Thru Street
  • Speed Limit 20 (a change from 30 mph) 

Painted on the road will be holding position markings that meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s standards along with raised reflective markers.

Area 2 will have the words “Watch for Aircraft” painted on two sides along with the FAA’s holding position markings and raised reflective markers. 

“The intersection where aircraft are taxiing off is not visible,” said Horseshoe Bay resident and pilot Brian Frazee, who addressed the council Tuesday. “The closest, scariest calls have been at that intersection. They were definitely not looking out for airplanes. People are unaware that an airplane is coming.”

Area three will have the gate at Stall Out Street along with a sign that reads “Closed: No Thru Traffic” and a 20-mph speed limit sign. The gate can be opened by city staff.

Frazee and two other residents met with City Manager Stan Farmer and Police Chief Rocky Wardlow to inform the leaders of the dangers they have witnessed and the close calls they’ve experienced. 

Frazee, who has lived in a hangar home in Horseshoe Bay for four years, began efforts to make these streets safer in late 2017 after he was nearly hit by a truck pulling a trailer as he was taxiing his aircraft onto Air Park. 

The driver was on his way to Clayton Nolen Drive. Signs indicating that the road was an active taxiway and that aircraft had the right of way were too faded to read. The pilot told city leaders of his experience right after it happened. 

Two years later, Frazee and his neighbors renewed their requests to the city. Improved signs were installed, but they didn’t do enough to adequately ensure safety for everyone, Frazee said. 

“So, a couple months ago, following yet another serious near-collision, my aviator neighbors and I began an extensive collaborative process to compose a proposal we felt would reflect our focus on mitigating risk while being cost-conscious,” he said. “That effort led to a productive meeting with Mr. Farmer and the proposal that was presented to the council.”

What drivers and pedestrians might not know, the pilot said, is that airplanes don’t have the same mobility as cars and trucks.

“Aircraft cannot reverse course as vehicles or pedestrians can,” Frazee said. 

At any rate, aircraft do have the ability to turn on the ground but cannot move in reverse, making it all the more important to limit the presence of other vehicles/pedestrians in the path of taxiing aircraft, he said.

The council’s approval brought smiles to the faces of the hangar home families in attendance.  

“It’s a unique space,” Frazee said. “Having a residential air park isn’t something you see in many communities. The general public isn’t aware they exist and what to do around airplanes.” 

jfierro@thepicayune.com