Licensed, street-legal ATVs could travel between Sultan and Monroe on Mann Road and Ben Howard Road, shown here in green, under a proposed Snohomish County ordinance. (Snohomish County)

Licensed, street-legal ATVs could travel between Sultan and Monroe on Mann Road and Ben Howard Road, shown here in green, under a proposed Snohomish County ordinance. (Snohomish County)

County looks to open new roads to all-terrain vehicles

New ATV routes could link Monroe and Sultan, with an aim to boost rural tourism.

MONROE — There soon could be more turf for riding all-terrain vehicles in east Snohomish County — if paved highways qualify as turf.

The County Council could vote later this month to allow licensed ATV riders to travel Mann, Old Owen and Ben Howard roads. Council members are looking to make permanent an ATV pilot program that began last year, among other revisions.

“I think this is a better route to go for us and that’s why I requested the changes,” said Councilman Sam Low, whose district covers east county.

The council is considering a hearing at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 26.

The newly ATV-accessible roadways would link Monroe and Sultan, which allow all-terrain vehicles on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less. Both city councils have passed resolutions encouraging the county to take that step.

Darrington, Granite Falls and Stanwood also allow ATVs.

A 2013 state law gives cities and counties the authority to designate certain roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less for use by licensed, registered, street-legal ATVs with features such as horns, headlights and brake lights. People need to have a valid driver’s license to use them on public roads.

The county in December enacted a pilot program to allow all-terrain vehicles on stretches of Sultan Basin and Kellogg Lake roads, plus some other routes on the outskirts of Sultan.

Supporters believe expanded ATV areas could boost rural tourism but opponents worry about lawsuits if riders get injured.

The revisions the County Council is considering would significantly shorten the stretch of Sultan Basin Road open to ATV riders. To keep them farther from Spada Lake, where they pose a pollution risk, they would be barred from going past Kellogg Lake Road.

The proposed changes also would require anybody driving an ATV on a county road to carry proof of liability insurance.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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