Elk County, forest leaders discuss ATVs on public roads
RIDGWAY - Elk County community leaders and stakeholders met to discuss the obstacles still preventing them from driving ATVs on public roads at the Royal Inn in Ridgway on Thursday.
At Monday night's Ridgway Borough council meeting, a motion was passed to continue pursuing making it happen. Ridgway Borough Manager Paul McCurdy said he's working on an ordinance to approve ATV travel on Ridgway Borough streets, but it has to follow state regulations.
Residents and leaders learned there's still two things stopping them: the Allegheny National Forest and state roads.
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"ATVs are not allowed to operate on the Allegheny National Forest unless they're operating on designated trails and they have a permit to do so," Marienville District Ranger Rob Fallon said.
Their hope is to increase local tourism and be a convenience for those who ride the Elk County ATV trails by giving out-of-towners access to Ridgway and eliminating the need for locals to haul a trailer.
"We're looking for a way to try and connect the trail system and the Allegheny National Forest to a way that you can get into Ridgway Borough," State Rep. Matt Gabler said. "We're also trying to figure out how we can cross some obstacles, such as state highways, which currently don't accommodate ATVs."
PennDOT does not designate any state highways for ATVs, and every road in and out of Ridgway is a state road.
However, PennDOT officials had one suggestion: the turn back program. It gives roads back to the municipalities, along with money to maintain them.
"If Ridgway Borough were to take a piece of West Main Street, that would overcome that," McCurdy said. "As long as in addition, the township would take the piece of state road necessary to get out to Buehler Corner."
If that happens, along with a connecting trail to the trails in the Allegheny National Forest, Ridgway's plan could work.
McCurdy said they are going to work with these agencies to overcome the obstacles.