State changes road rules for ATVs; Wrangell 'essentially the same'

As of Jan. 1, Wrangell’s roadways won’t look much different after a new state regulation adopted by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration took effect.

Alaskans are now allowed to drive their ATVs on most roadways where the speed limit is 45 mph or less, unless the city or borough opts out. The new law will only affect one portion of Wrangell streets.

“For us, there’s really not much of a change of anything,” said Lt. Bruce Smith, of the Wrangell Police Department. Except for the Airport Loop, he added.

Municipal code already allows ATVs to be driven on roads, with the exception of Zimovia Highway where the speed limit increases to 50 mph. Under the new state law, all-terrain vehicles will legally be allowed to drive the Airport Loop, Smith said. Whereas before, though it wasn’t legal, it wasn’t enforced.

ATVs in Wrangell are required to have a registration sticker, but the new state regulation requires them to have front and rear license plates, too. Smith said that’s something that the police department will be considering, just not yet.

The goal of the new regulation, according to officials from the Department of Public Safety, is to provide safe and affordable travel for Alaskans, but some organizations have cited safety concerns as reasons for municipalities to opt out and impose their own limitations.

The city councils in Sitka, Fairbanks, Kenai and Valdez have adopted local opt-out bans on ATVs on streets. Juneau and Anchorage have long banned the vehicles on their streets.


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