Officials in Rocky Top and Anderson County and Tennessee legislators had a ribbon-cutting on Friday, July 1, to celebrate legislation that allows all-terrain vehicles to ride on Highway 25W, or US 25W, starting this month.
The celebration included officials from the City of Rocky Top, Rocky Top Chamber of Commerce, and Anderson County Tourism Council.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation to amend state law to allow for all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, to ride on Highway 25W in Rocky Top from the intersection of Colonial Lane to the intersection at Jacksboro Avenue beginning July 1, a press release said.
“Current legislation (before July 1) allows for ATVs to be operated on State Route 116 from Beech Grove to Highway 25,” said Mike Lovely, Rocky Top mayor. “This amendment extends the riding area and allows riders from Windrock Park to access the commerce area of Rocky Top.”
Windrock Park is the largest privately-owned off-road recreation area in the country with more than 72,000 acres that include off-highway vehicle trails, hiking trails, and mountain biking trails, the press release said. It is also home to the Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm, which is comprised of 18 windmills.
“Thousands of people visit Windrock Park every year,” said Stephanie Wells, Anderson County Tourism Council’s director. “This will allow those visitors to come into the City of Rocky Top, buy gas, eat at restaurants, stay at the hotels, etc., without having to reload their equipment. Areas like the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in West Virginia have seen a very positive impact on their economy by giving ATV riders access to their towns.”
“This will entice people to open businesses in Rocky Top that will cater to ATV and off-road activities,” said Tim Isbel of Rocky Top Marketing and Manufacturing. “Adventure tourism is one component of our development plan that was initiated with the name change. The potential development as it relates to ATV activities and our location on Interstate 75, within a day’s drive of 75 percent of the U.S. population, combines to make the perfect environment for future development.”
“Our first priority is safety of our citizens and our visitors,” said City of Rocky Top’s Police Chief Jim Shetterly. “People wishing to ride in town will have to register and receive a permit. They will also be required to follow all safety requirements.”
All-terrain vehicles will only be allowed on Highway 25W from the intersection of Colonial Lane to the intersection at Jacksboro Avenue, Highway 116 from the intersection of Highway 25W and Beech Grove Road and on Beech Grove Road from the intersection with Highway 116 to the entrance to Windrock Park and only between 30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset. The route will be marked with signage.
Anyone operating an ATV must be 16 years of age or older and have a valid driver’s license, the press release said. Each person riding on the vehicle must wear a helmet. The vehicle must have working headlights and brake lights. If the vehicle doesn’t have turn signals, the operator must use hand signals when turning. The owner of the vehicles must have insurance on the vehicle and must be prepared to show proof of insurance. Riders must lawfully operate their vehicle at all times. Any violation to the state laws and the rules listed here will result in loss of privileges to operate vehicle on the specified road, the release said.
Riders can register with the city at Rocky Top City Hall and at the Rocky Top Police Station when City Hall is closed on evenings and weekends. Permits for Windrock Park are now being sold at Shop Rite at the intersection of Highway 25W and Highway 116 and must be obtain in addition to the City’s permit to access Windrock’s property.
For more information, contact the City of Rocky Top at (865) 426-2838 or by email at [email protected].
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