In an effort to enable ATV riders to reach fuel, lodging and restaurants in Coos County, Governor Hassan and the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails announced the approval of permits allowing off-road vehicles to travel on state highways.
"Allowing off-road vehicles to travel on state highways will help make New Hampshire's unparalleled ATV-riding experiences an even greater success," Governor Hassan said. "This will make more trails accessible to riders, helping drive business to shops, restaurants and other properties in Coos County and strengthening our travel and tourism economy."
In preparation for the Jericho ATV Festival, which runs July 26 and 27 at Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin, crews from the Bureau of Trails will install temporary signs along US Route 2 and state Route 16 in Gorham, as well as along Bridge Street in Colebrook and Main Street in Stewartstown.
The Gorham sections of highway will make riding available from Jericho Mountain State Park and the Ride the Wilds' Coos Loop directly to motels and restaurants in Gorham and allow local residents direct trail access from certain town roads.
"This will enable riders to come off the trails and into these communities, where they can fill up with gas, get something to eat or spend the night," said Christopher Gamache, chief of the Bureau of Trails.
He said he expects the signs to be installed by Thursday. The Department of Transportation will install permanent signs next month.
Off-road vehicles will have to ride in the travel lane, with traffic, and operate at posted highway speeds, Gamache said.
"Riding on the highway is going to be a new experience for OHRV users and riders, and motorists need to be aware of one another," Gamache said. "This is a tremendous step forward to connecting existing trail-riding opportunities in Coos County, but we want to make sure that the existing motorists and the OHRV riders coexist safely on the roads, so paying attention to signs will be extremely important."
Cooperation between local businesses, OHRV clubs, local communities and state and federal agencies "have worked very well together this year to make these improvements to turn Coos County into an OHRV destination."
The Trails Bureau website, as well as municipal websites and OHRV sites, will be updated with the road routes and conditions for use early next week.
The Bureau of Trails is a part of the New Hampshire Division of Parks & Recreation. The division manages over 73 state parks, campgrounds, thousands of miles of trails, historic sites, waysides and natural areas. The division is part of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. For more information about today's announcement or the Bureau of Trails, please call 603-271-3254 or visit www.nhtrails.org.