Committee renews call to open all roads to ATV/UTV use

Soper calls for clean vote as committee asserts it has authority to set ATV routes

A plan to open all county highways to ATV and UTV traffic is getting more complicated by the week.
In August, members of the highway committee approved opening all the county roads to ATV/UTV use. Previously the county board had delegated this authority to the highway committee and about one-third of the county highways were open under a county ordinance establishing the rules including a requirement limiting riders to being over 16. The county code is more stringent than the state law which allows riders on road routes as young as 12 years old with adult supervision.
Since going from one third of the county roads being open to all of them being open was a big change in philosophy for the county, the committee directed it would go to the full county board for final action. Since that time other committees have weighed in on the change expressing safety concerns specifically with high-traffic road sections. There have been several joint resolutions circulated to specifically close some high-traffic roads near the city of Medford and at least two versions of a resolution amending the county code with one mirroring all of the state law and the other keeping the age limit the same. Added to this is a request for county power line impact fee money to pay for the additional signs that will be needed around the entry points to the county road network in order to be in compliance with state law.
The finance committee already voted to send a recommendation to the full county board for a $5,000 grant request to help cover the cost of signs. However, that is tied with specific roads that are not to be included in the opening and requires a two-thirds vote of the entire board.

See this week's issue of The Star News for the complete story.

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