The first connector routes proposed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow off-road vehicles (ORVs) to travel in the rights of way, including some shoulders of state highways, have been approved by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
Twelve routes in the Upper Peninsula were chosen as pilot locations where ORVs are allowed to operate within MDOT rights of way. The routes were established under new rules signed into law in 2013.
Eleven of these routes are signed and open, with a seasonal closure in place starting Sunday, Dec. 1. The 12th route will be signed and opened with the initial 11 locations beginning May 1, 2014, when the seasonal closure ends. The pilot project will include follow-up review of safety and environmental impacts, impacts to the rights of way and easements, and property owner issues.
ORV operation on the shoulders of state highways is initially limited to these 12 pilot routes, although more routes may be approved in the future. The new law does not open up all state highway rights of way to ORV traffic.
ORV right-of-way rules for the connector routes include:
…25 mph speed limit
…Riders must be single file
…Obey annual seasonal closure of Dec. 1 to May 1
The new connector routes will provide ORV riders a legal point of access to communities, attractions and services near existing ORV trail networks.
“This change will allow increased cooperation between the DNR, MDOT, ORV clubs and municipalities as we work to create a safe, interconnected trail system linking ORV trails and riders with local communities,” said DNR recreation specialist Ron Yesney.
Clubs, chambers of commerce or other entities seeking to apply for an ORV connector route must work with the local unit of government, which may draft a request and submit it to MDOT. Requests will be reviewed by MDOT and DNR on a case-by-case basis, with safety and connectivity being primary factors evaluated during the approval process.
For more information about riding ORVs in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/orvtrails.