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Snowmobile route map changes add, delete access

Proposed changes to the city's snowmobile route would add access in some places and delete it in others.

The city's official snowmobile route map will undergo changes if the City Council approves them. It heard a first reading of the ordinance amendments at its last meeting and will likely vote on the proposed changes at its Tuesday, Nov. 10, meeting.

They include adding access along Quarry Road, which connects with the north-end industrial park and gas/food/hotel amenities and deleting access along South Wasson Lane north of Cascade Avenue and along several streets south of the Wasson/Cascade intersection: South Fork Drive, Broadway Street and Valley View Drive. Other route deletions include Apollo Road and to its south, Lawrence Street; as well as Mound View Road in the north-end industrial park.

The added access at Quarry Road would enable riders to come from and go to the county's trails without having to cross the Hwy. 35/65 bypass as they do now. Instead riders would cross under the highway on Quarry Road.

Sergeant Jeff Sather with the River Falls Police Department, which oversees snowmobile rules, said the route and map have not been updated in many years.

He said some routes are not useful to snowmobilers and should be deleted. At the same time, the city wants to accommodate snowmobilers coming in from the county trails and provide access for them to the city's amenities.

The process of change began last year with local snowmobile club president Randy Zellmer and president of the Pierce County club, Jerry Van Heukelom, approaching the city about creating south-end snowmobile access. Council Member Randy Kusilek also asked about it recently when the changes were introduced.

Some council members said constituents approached them about better access on the south end of town, at least to get to the gas stations there. Others said residents complained to them about snowmobilers riding on the Main Street sidewalks to reach the fuel or store, which is illegal.

To stay on the city's legal trails, snowmobilers must sled several miles north via county trails and enter the city via the north-end industrial park.

Sather says in his memorandum to the council that there is no access to county trails on the south end of town, and a route can't go along Cemetery Road because it might be designated a state highway in the future.

State laws mandate that snowmobilers ride no closer than 10 feet to any state or county roadway, with few exceptions like bridges. Besides Cemetery Road not being an option for access on the south end of town, Main Street becomes Hwys. 29/35, and the city limits now extend to County Road FF.

Sather said, "This basically creates a barricade of sorts that does not allow snowmobilers on the roadway in this area,"

Sather said another meeting of the group took place this fall. It agreed on two basics: Adding south-end access isn't an option right now and adding Quarry Road access establishes a safer route for riders than crossing the four-lane bypass.

Discussion at the council meeting indicated that the local snowmobile club may try working with the university to establish a route on its property that would allow south-end access.

Sather said in general, snowmobilers should know: City routes are only open when county routes are open; city laws do not allow people to access the city route from their home; and riders must stay on designated (signed) snowmobile routes.