Governor Walker Signs Bill Initiated by Darlington Police Chief Jason King
Law changes to allow local governments to manage ATV/UTV routes on state highways
MADISON – Today Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill (AB) 485 become Act 87 which gives municipalities the authority to enact an ordinance to allow ATVs and UTVs on sections of state highways within municipal boundaries. AB 485 and Senate Bill (SB) 392 were authored by Senator Howard Marklein (Spring Green) and Representative Todd Novak (Dodgeville) at the request of Darlington Police Chief Jason King.
According to King, current law prohibited ATV/UTV’s from using a small section of Galena Street which is also State Highway 23 because it is a state highway. This creates an obstacle that effectively isolates neighborhoods from legally accessing the city-wide ATV route. Act 87 allows a municipality to include this type of road in their ATV/UTV route plan. As ATVs and UTVs become more popular, the need for a continuous trail system becomes more critical. Often, the only way to connect two trailheads is through the use of a state roadway. If a stretch of road is deemed safe for ATV/UTV usage by local officials, the municipality may enact an ordinance allowing for operation of these vehicles.
“Our local leaders should be trusted to make decisions about these issues. They can assess whether a small section of state highway within their municipal boundaries may be safely traveled on an ATV/UTV,” Marklein said. “I appreciate Chief King’s willingness to share this idea. I was proud to author this bill and it passed the legislature with bi-partisan support.”
AB 485 and SB 392 were drafted because the Department of Transportation (DOT) denied a request made by the City of Darlington asking for permission to use a small stretch of State Highway 23 as an access route for the Cheese County Recreational Trail. The Department denied the request without seeking input from local officials.
“When Chief King came to us with this idea, we saw it as an excellent opportunity to entrust local governments with this additional authority,” said Novak. “Local officials are best suited to make these decisions and I’m excited we were able to make this happen for our rural municipalities.”