A north-south ATV route connecting the Wild Rivers Trail to the south side of Rice Lake has been recommended by an ad hoc committee for approval by the City Council. The ATV/Snowmobile Routes Committee has proposed ATV routes on Macauley Avenue from Allen Street to South Street-with an easement through the Cenex gas station-then west on South Street to Pioneer Avenue. The trail would terminate where Pioneer Avenue meets College Drive south of Hwy. O. The committee also proposes a short route from the Wild Rivers on North Avenue and Lakeshore Drive to a boat landing area on Hospital Bay in Rice Lake. A major holdup in the route remains connecting the existing Wild Rivers to the street route on Macauley Avenue. Though the train tracks are gone, approximately 150 feet of right of way are still owned by Canadian National Railway. The company must release the property to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources before it becomes part of the Wild Rivers Trail. Mayor Steve Harrington said that is a slow process, but the city will seek permission to use the right of way in the meantime. If permission is not granted, a temporary trail will be considered. That could cost $8,000 to $17,000, said committee member Mark O'Brien, adding that MarketPlace Foods is on board with a temporary trail plan. Approximately 100 signs will be needed for the route, costing $6,000 to $8,000, said Chad Paulson, city community services foreman. Rice Lake Tourism would pay for the signs if the route is approved. A main motivating factor for the route is to promote ATV tourism, given Rice Lake's position at the south end of the 104-mile Wild Rivers Trail. There is currently limited lodging on the trail in Rice Lake.
ATV ordinance A 10 mph speed limit would be placed on ATVs, which must travel on the extreme right in single file, according to a draft city ordinance. ATV operators must also be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver's license. Operators and passengers under 18 years of age would be required to wear a helmet. The draft ordinance also states headlights and taillights need to be illuminated at all times. Forfeitures for violating the ordinance are in the works, said Rice Lake Police Chief Steve Roux. The committee plans to hold a public meeting for citizens seeking more information or who wish to comment on the proposal. The date has yet to be announced. The City Council is expected to take up the matter in July.
Expansion Some small extensions to the route are already being considered, mainly to connect ATV dealers. Harrington said Airtec Sports would like access to the trail for ATV rentals and test rides. The rail spur that was removed in 2013 cannot be used as an ATV route because CN donated it to be used as a walking path. The path is part of a $1 million grant project to extend the Cedar Side Trail to downtown. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is explicit that the path be nonmotorized or funding would be jeopardized, said Jim Anderson, director or Rice Lake Community Services. But Stein Street and Ann Street were mentioned as possible routes across Main Street. Chamber of Commerce representative Karen Heram mentioned Northwest Honda, located a block off Macauley, might also want access via Schneider Street. Several attending the meeting said they'd like to see more extensive ATV routes in the future. "I think if it works good, we could see a lot more miles," said Alderman Mark O'Brien. - - - -