In preparation for allowing ATVs and UTVs riders to access the Bruce bridge, during the Oct. 1 Bruce Village board meeting it was announced the village ordinance for ATV and UTV use within the village and to the village limits was updated.

Several club members from Rusk Rider’s ATV Club and other area clubs have attended township, village and county meetings throughout the season working to have the Bruce bridge opened for ATV and UTV travel.

Currently there are two ATV crossings over the Chippewa River in Rusk County. ATV riders are eager to open the Bruce bridge due to its centralized location and to further enhance the county’s intricate trail system.

During the August Rusk County Highway Committee meeting Bruce Village trustee Galen Brainerd confirmed the village’s support. The village is prepared to move the speed limits to accommodate ATV travel, saying “it would not be a problem.” Opening the bridge up is seen by many as a win-win for the local economy and tourist industry.

At the October village meeting, Dave Williams spoke on behalf of the Rusk Rider’s ATV Club requesting the village write a resolution to allow ATV’s to be able to cross the Bruce bridge. The request for the resolution comes from the September 17 Rusk County Highway Committee meeting where Highway Commissioner Scott Emch said allowing ATV and UTV travel across the bridge would be contingent on a written resolution by both the Village of Bruce and the Township of Thornapple.

Village President Mike Newman announced he has worked with the village’s attorney to update the village ordinances to extended ATV and UTV access up to the village limits to allow ATV’s and UTV’s to cross the Bruce bridge. Newman said in checking with the village’s attorney he confirmed the village already has an ordinance in place for the rest of the village and revising it to extend to it’s limit will work better than a resolution.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ website, recent changes to Wisconsin law now allow local communities to give authorization to ATV and UTV riders to use local roads where speeds are posted to 35 miles per hour or less.

Wisconsin law also allows a municipality to enact an ordinance “authorizing the operation of ATV’s and UTV’s on a highway bridge that is 1,000 feet in length or less, and is located within the territorial boundaries of the county, city, village, or town regardless of whether the county, city, village, or town has jurisdiction over the highway.”

ATV and UTV riders are seeking to enter U.S. 8 at Sawdust Road, cross the Bruce bridge and cross the Dairiconcepts driveway. The revised village ordinance allows riders to connect to the existing snowmobile route corridor 12 during seasons when snowmobiles are not in use. The revised ordinance requires riders to exit the highway as quickly and safely as practicable after crossing the bridge.

It leaves a question of who would pay for the paving, improvement and maintenance of the shoulder, approximately 500 feet, to increase rider’s safety. In the September 17 Highway Committee meeting, Emch said the cost of shoulder improvement and signage could be as much as $8,000-$10,000 and would likely have to be paid for by the ATV clubs.

Because the Bruce bridge is a state bridge, the county board of supervisors will need to vote on the issue before the bridge can be opened to ATV and UTV travel.

The next Bruce village board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.

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