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Newport ATV experiment considered a success by many

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 12:52 AM EDT
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NEWPORT, Vt. (WCAX) - Many Newport businesses and residents are calling the first season of ATVs on city streets a success.

It went so well that city leaders expect to allow the same rules next year. Business owners like Frank Richardi say that’s good news. “We saw the ATVs at the hardware store, we saw them at the bank, we saw them going to the post office, the grocery store,” he said. “Everybody was filtering into every business.”

Richardi says that this new feature was perfect for stimulating the local economy during the pandemic. “It was just another element to bring people out and bring people to the area,” he said. “The side-by-sides and the ATVs definitely brought more traffic to the downtown area.”

It’s just what city leaders in Newport had hoped for when voters approved the ordinance allowing ATVs to be used on some city roads. Newort Mayor Paul Monette says he witnessed the additional foot traffic driving through the town and city limits this summer. “I know in my travels around, especially on weekends, I would see numerous ATVs at the various businesses,” he said.

He was hopeful the new ordinance would attract out-of-state riders to the region, but that may not have happened as much as he’d like due to the pandemic closing the Canadian border. Regardless, he says the economic impact was still felt. “I did see a note from one business that said they had a 50% increase in gas sales on a Saturday, due to ATVs,” Monette said.

Before the vote earlier this year, some people who lived in the area were concerned about noise, a possible uptick in traffic, and the potential for low-visibility of the machines on the roadways. Newport Police Chief Travis Bingham says beyond warnings and rider education, there were no major problems. “It was less than five tickets, and I would say it was exactly two,” Chief Bingham said. “And there just weren’t a lot of speeding violations or any kind of violations like that.”

The inaugural season was a trial run, and officials say it went so well, the ATV ordinance will likely happen again next year. They’re also hoping more nearby towns adopt similar policies to connect the trail network even more.

Related Stories:

Pownal voters overturn allowing ATVs on most local roads

Experts say surge in ATV riders, injuries likely linked to pandemic

ATVs hit the road in Newport for trial period

Williamstown votes to keep ATVs on the road

Coventry to open roads to all-terrain vehicles

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