Public hearing before city considers opening all streets to ATVs, UTVs

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The blue lines on this map refer to the proposed routes within the city of Prairie du Chien that the Crawford County Ridge Runners would like the council to approve and designate for ATV and UTV usage.

By Correne Martin

Community stakeholders are encouraged to attend a public hearing Tuesday, July 2, where the Prairie du Chien Common Council will consider opening all city streets to ATVs and UTVs. The hearing starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.

The city public works committee has met on this issue multiple times in the past year and is recommending the council consent to the use of these all-terrain machines on all roads, according to City Administrator Chad Abram. The committee is advising certain regulations, of course.

“The city sees this a couple ways. For sure, it’s an added bonus to tourism. You’re going to get people who come here for this type of activity. It’s the new thing,” Abram stated. “On the flip side, our main concern is safety. The police department would enforce the ordinance, if approved.”

While the council typically heeds its committees’ endorsements, the aldermen have choices. They may vote in favor of, or against, allowing access to all city roadways. They could choose to authorize all streets, yet create a designated, or suggested, route for users. (This option would make adding streets to the designated route easier down the road.) Or they can support opening all streets, with some exceptions—such as near schools, like other communities have adopted­—but still allow for residents to pass through those areas in traveling between their home and the route.

The committee is proposing hours of operation be from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with an eight-hour quiet time overnight. This differs from the county, which set a four-hour “no driving” time from 1 to 5 a.m.

According to Wisconsin State Statute, all operators must be 16 or older and hold a regular driver’s license; riders under age 18 must wear helmets, registration and insurance are required, rear lights must be used at all times, and noise and pollution standards must be met. The speed limit for ATVs or UTVs on the routes is 35 mph or lower as designated. 

State statute does allow for open intoxicants on these machines, as they are considered recreational; however, drivers cannot operate with a blood alcohol concentration at or above .08 percent. Abram noted that the Crawford County ordinance restricts open intoxicants on ATVs and UTVs, and the council will likely consider adopting a similar rule.

“This (public hearing) is the public’s chance to speak in favor or against it. The more the council can hear from constituents, the more educated they can be in making this decision,” Abram said. “So let your voice be heard.”

If the council is in support of the ordinance, it would be adopted at the next council meeting, Tuesday, July 16. 

“The Crawford County Ridge Runners Club is looking to get a connecting loop between the towns of Prairie du Chien and Bridgeport,” Abram noted. 

At the May 21 council meeting, Club Vice-President John Shimpach shared that, of the 11 townships and 10 municipalities in Crawford County, only the city of Prairie du Chien and Haney Township have yet to approve ATV/UTV routes within their borders. 

“Our main object is to get access to the motels, filling stations and a few eating places,” Shimpach said at the May meeting.

Abram said the Ridge Runners would pay for and place signage on the selected route(s), if the ordinance is approved. 

County government worked with the Ridge Runners to establish ATV/UTV trails that include sections of numerous county roads. According to a June 2016 Courier Press article, the club touted 250 route miles that connected through most Crawford County communities. 

For more information about the club, or for a more detailed, interactive map of the proposed Prairie du Chien route, visit

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