Lewis County leaders, amid a push to expand ATV access to more county roads, are encouraging local municipalities to consider allowing ATVs on roads within their city limits.
“We’re going to move forward with this,” said County Commissioner Gary Stamper during a Mayors Meeting Friday that brought together leaders from around the county. “We’re going to ask the mayors if they’re interested — we’re talking about connectivity — if there’s other mayors in small towns that would like to see access from the county roads into their cities.”
Last year, Lewis County opened up ATV access on roads in the rural eastern half of Lewis County, where the cities of Morton and Mossyrock had already started allowing ATVs. The measure allows ATVs — which must be registered, licensed and meet strict safety requirements — to operate on roads with speed limits 35 miles per hour or below.
Now, officials are looking at expanding ATV use to the west side of the county, though they’ve said they’ll have to be more selective about which roads they open up in a region that contains a mix of urban and rural communities. As the likelihood grows that more residents will be riding ATVs on county roads in their communities, commissioners want municipalities to think ahead to determine if those users can keep riding once they reach city limits.
“What we’re looking for is input from those rural communities to see what would help them if they want to open up their town or their city to access beyond the city limits,” Stamper said.
County leaders distributed a map of county roads that could potentially be opened up to ATV use, a document put together by the Public Works Department.
Morton Mayor Dan Mortensen encouraged his fellow city leaders to consider making similar allowances.
“In the city of Morton, we’ve had zero problems, and we’re excited that it’s going to expand,” he said. “I think it should be county-wide. … The (roads) that are available are used, and people really appreciate that.”
Meanwhile, Toledo Mayor Steve Dobosh said he was interested in learning more, but needed to talk through concerns with his city council about how it would work for Toledo.
“I’ve got to look at the routes,” he said. “I just don’t want a whole bunch of ATVs coming through town. We’ve got seniors that might not notice them. I’m going to look at it and present it to our council. We’ve got a lot of roads in there that are 35 or less. … I’ll show them the pictures and see where we go from there.”
Stamper said ATV expansion had largely been a success in East Lewis County, notwithstanding a handful of riders who had been stopped while driving illegally on U.S. Highway 12. He indicated that the more urban areas of Centralia and Chehalis were not interested in allowing ATVs, which was understandable.
“It really addresses most of the rural communities,” he said. “We’re not trying to push this on anyone, but if you’re more interested in getting involved with this, Public Works has put a lot of time and effort into this.”