Dubuque County officials July 1 started to zero in on roads they would consider excluding from an ordinance allowing all-terrain and utility vehicles on county roads.
The topic was among several discussed during a meeting of the committee drafting an ordinance allowing drivers to operate ATVs and UTVs for recreational purposes. Currently, those vehicles may only be used for agricultural purposes.
County Engineer Anthony Bardgett recommended ATVs and UTVs not be allowed on several roads that have a history of crashes. He noted that roads with a higher frequency of crashes are in proximity to the city of Dubuque, largely because of the higher volume of traffic on those roads.
“These are the ones we should just keep out until we review further,” he said.
Bardgett said problematic roads include Sundown Road south of U.S. 20 to U.S. 151, Old Highway Road from Sundown Road to Dubuque city limits, Swiss Valley Road, Military Road and English Mill Road, among others.
He also suggested roads around John Deere Dubuque Works be excluded.
“I think it’s just a good idea to stay away from the John Deere area, especially with the traffic study we have going,” he said.
County Supervisor Ann McDonough asked if officials from local cities should weigh in, noting that on Asbury Road, for example, it would be hard for ATV and UTV users to tell when they have entered city limits. Parts of that road also have higher traffic counts.
“Each of the cities and towns may have something they’d like to say in terms of how the ordinance is being crafted,” she said.
Bardgett said there are other stretches of road that could be looked at beyond just crash data. Supervisor Dave Baker noted that ultimately, it is up to individual towns to decide what they want to allow.
“The towns will control their municipality, and I think that’s the way the law is,” he said.
Officials also discussed creating a local permit for ATV and UTV riders, in addition to the state-required off-road vehicle registration.
County Recorder John Murphy said if permits are required, he would recommend that permit stickers be affixed to vehicles and look similar to state registration stickers. Drivers could also have their permit fee reduced by taking a safety course, Murphy said.
County officials said they want to find out if they can enlarge permit stickers and include information that would allow law enforcement to identify vehicles.
Murphy said his contact from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources indicated that county officials cannot create their own registration system with vehicle identification information.
“I think that would be another issue of it being a registration system,” he said.
County Attorney C.J. May III agreed to look into exactly what the county is allowed to do.