HOULTON, Maine — There appears to be some confusion over what is and what is not allowed for snowmobilers within the town limits.
Back in April 2012, the town of Houlton made it legal for all-terrain vehicles to ride on some public roads, provided they were trying to gain access to one of the town’s many trails. Those selected roads, known as “designated access roads” were marked with signs to let riders know passage was allowed.
That ordinance, however, only applies to ATVs and not snowmobiles.
“Recently, Officer (Theron) Bickford stopped a snowmobiler operating on a public way,” Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin Asselin said. “The operator thought he was legal because he was on a designated ‘access route.’ Access routes in town are applicable to ATVs only. Snowmobilers have to comply with Title 12 regulations when operating on trails or public ways.”
Title 12 regulations are part of a state law governing fish and wildlife matters; forests, parks, lakes and rivers; marine resources; as well as the use of recreational vehicles.
According to the state law, “a person may not operate a snowmobile upon the main traveled portion, the sidewalks or the plowed snowbanks of a public way.”
A closer look at some of the state’s snowmobile law reveals:
• A properly registered snowmobile may be operated on a public way only the distance necessary, but in no case to exceed 500 yards, on the extreme right of the traveled way for the purpose of crossing, as directly as possible, a public way, sidewalk or culvert.
• A properly registered snowmobile may be operated on a public way only the distance necessary, but in no case to exceed 500 yards, on the extreme right of the traveled way for the sole purpose of crossing, as directly as possible, a bridge, overpass or underpass, provided that that operation can be made in safety and that it does not interfere with vehicular traffic approaching from either direction on the public way.
• A snowmobile may be operated on any portion of a public way when the public way has been closed in accordance with Title 23, section 2953.
The fine for breaking this law ranges from $100-$500.
For more information on this matter, contact the Houlton Police Department at 532-2287.