Vehicular access to beaches to be restored Monday

Closing Port A beaches
Posted at 7:26 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 20:38:30-04

The vehicular ban limiting access to bay and Gulf beaches will be allowed to expire Monday morning, said Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales.

Canales made the announcement during the city and county's twice-weekly joint news briefing on Friday.

The ban, which has lasted four weeks, recently has become a local point of contention. Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan announced Sunday that enforcing the ban had depleted Port Aransas' Police Department's overtime budget, and that it would no longer be fiscally able to patrol the beaches.

Immediately after expressing this via Facebook, the beaches saw an influx of vehicle traffic Sunday and Monday. Bujan and Canales on Thursday issued a joint statement reminding people the ban remained in effect.

In order to help ease congestion in Port Aransas, Canales also said Friday that makeshift parking lots will be available near access roads, which should keep vehicles from parking on city and neighborhood streets.

The original ban went into effect before Fourth of July weekend in order to discourage crowds on the beaches during the holiday weekend in an effort to try and stop the spread of COVID-19, Canales said.

It was extended the week after Hurricane Hanna hit, in order to allow city and county crews to make the beaches more passable after the storm displaced much of the sand and dunes, city and county officials said.

Local resident William Rickertsen also filed a lawsuit Aug. 3 naming Canales, Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb, the city of Corpus Christi and Nueces County as defendants in a lawsuit, saying the ban constituted the breach of a contract enacted when he bought his beach-parking permit.

When asked for reaction to the lawsuit, Canales and McComb had little to say.

"It’s a free country, and God bless America," McComb said. "They can (file lawsuits), but we’ll see where it goes.”

Canales said Friday several access roads will remain closed because of Hanna debris, as well as the seven-mile stretch south of Bob Hall Pier to the Padre Island National Seashore.

She also said that although cars will once again be able to drive on beaches during the day, the nighttime curfew from 9 p.m. - 6 a.m. will remain in effect.

KRIS 6 News producer Carlos Adamez contributed to this story, as well as KRIS 6 News multimedia journalist Seth Kovar.