ATV/UTV trails one step closer to finalized in Prairie du Chien

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By Correne Martin 

Over 25 observers attended the Prairie du Chien Common Council meeting July 2 with one thing on their mind: the proposed opening of ATV/UTV routes in the city. Four individuals—two of whom are city residents—spoke in favor of allowing these machines on city streets, while one resident disagreed with the possible designated route along North Main Street, though he didn’t directly oppose offering most streets up for ATV and UTV use. The council will make a final decision on Aug. 6, since it voted unanimously last week to send the discussion back to the public works committee to draft a final ordinance. 

“All users will be asked to obey the rules of the county ordinance we have now,” said John Udelhoven, Crawford County Ridge Runner spokesman. 

Prairie du Chien Police Chief Kyle Teynor acknowledged that point, noting that “the same mistakes made in motor vehicles are made on UTVs.” He added, “From other chiefs I’ve talked to, it should be fine as long as we have an ordinance that we can enforce and then voluntary compliance from the riders.”

The proposed designated route is the most direct trail north and south, according to Mayor Dave Hemmer. It does include portions of Highway 18–mainly the bypass—a number of the roads on St. Feriole Island, County K and some back streets to and from businesses in the downtown district and Marquette Road business district. 

City resident Dale Klemme took issue with North Main Street being part of the designated route, saying it’s not appropriate for such, since, he feels, “it’s one of the busiest streets in town.” He said it’s traveled already by grain trucks, camping traffic, boat trailers and kids biking or walking to Washington Street and the island. After asking about the criteria for choosing the route, he said he suggests the public works committee and council consider more than just the most direct path, but more the safest. 

Mark Thornburg, owner of MotoRace Tire in Prairie du Chien and temporary resident, gave his favorable input. Working around these machines regularly, he said, “These vehicles are getting safer and more Jeep-like and they’re ready for the roads.” Like others who spoke, he believes this is an opportunity for the city to gain some tourism dollars.  

Soldiers Grove resident and Ridge Runners club member Mike Wheeler told the council, “There’s a lot of county residents who are interested in coming to Prairie du Chien (on ATVs and UTVs).” Likewise, he quipped, “People in Prairie du Chien want to go out and use the county routes.”

With the Fourth of July over, resident Dan Jones urged the council to get going in making its decision so people can really use the new trails before the weather turns. 

Other business 

•City Administrator Chad Abram said the city’s Fourth Street/Villa Louis Boat Landing project has been postponed at least one week, from starting July 8 to July 15, due to the “forecasted high water.”

•The council approves submittal of a grant application for the Blackhawk Junction property for a Wisconsin Assessment Money Contractor Services Award. Since the county owns the property, and is working with the city to remove any barriers to the redevelopment of the property, the county directed the city to apply for this. 

•The council learned the Rotary Club donated $1,000 toward the city parks and recreation’s handicap accessible fishing pier project to coincide with the boat landing deal.

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