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Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Connector Routes

The Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, as amended, Part 811, specifically MCL 324.81101 and MCL 324.81131, now provides that MDOT may authorize the operation of off-road vehicles (ORVs) on a highway, other than an interstate highway, subject to the requirements and restrictions of the law, and at the discretion of MDOT.
ORV connector routes are intended to provide ORV riders a legal point of access to communities, attractions and services near existing ORV routes when there are no other reasonable or viable non-highway alternative routes available. ORVs are only allowed to travel within specific approved segments of state highway right of way. Safety is MDOT's top priority when approving these segments. State law does not open up all state highway right of way to ORV use.

Only the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) or a local unit of government may request MDOT to authorize the operation of ORVs on a segment of state trunkline. ORV clubs and trail groups interested in establishing connector routes must work through a local unit of government.

Permit Application

All MDOT permit applications for ORV connector routes should be submitted through the MDOT Permit Gateway at MDNR and local units of government should refer to Instructions for Governmental Agencies, Schools and Colleges to set up your account.

Documents and Forms

ORV Resources and Contacts

ORV Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is significant about the amended ORV Law?
    The law allows MDOT to authorize ORV's to travel within approved sections of MDOT Right-of-Way. The intent of the legislation is to promote economic development and provide ORV links to essential services and approved ORV trail systems.
  2. Who is eligible to request an ORV Connector Route in MDOT ROW?
    A request for an ORV connector route can only be made by the MDNR and/or the Local Unit of Government (LUG) in which the connector is proposed to be located. If the proposed connector crosses jurisdictional boundaries but lies in one county, the law permits a county to make a request on behalf of one or more LUGs. If the proposed connector route crosses jurisdictional boundaries into two or more counties, a separate request shall be required from each county.  Interested citizens or ORV clubs must contact the appropriate LUG if you wish to propose a new ORV connector route. 
  3. What is the process for requesting an ORV connector route in MDOT ROW?
    The submittal of an official request to MDOT is a multi-step process that includes: solicitation of comments, a MDOT permit application, a LUG resolution, and other required documents and processes. Please see the MDOT Process for Requesting Off Road Vehicle (ORV) Connector Routes on State Trunkline Highways document for detailed instructions and guidance for this process.
  4. Is there a permit application fee?
    No, MDOT does not change other governmental agencies any fees for permit applications.
  5. Who is responsible for the costs associated for ORV connectors?
    The permit applicant is responsible for all costs related to creating, operating and maintaining the ORV connector route within the State Trunkline Highway including; installing and maintaining signs, any construction or improvements required, and any maintenance or repairs that are needed, on the ORV route or other adjacent areas of the Right-of-Way, due to the operation of ORVs.
  6. Where can ORVs operate within the ROW?
    The law provides that, when approved by MDOT, ORVs may travel on the highway shoulder or outside of the highway shoulder on the unmaintained portion of the State highway Right-of-Way. A connector route can utilize the highway shoulder and paths outside of the shoulder in combination to develop a route that utilizes the best available location(s) for ORV traffic to travel.
  7. What is the MDNR's role in ORV connector routes?
  • For official MDNR designated routes - MDNR shall be the permit applicant, and shall coordinate with the LUG to obtain the required LUG resolution, LUG ordinance and for other required documents and processes as required.
  • For non-MDNR (local) routes - the LUG shall be the permit applicant and shall be solely responsible for all aspects of the process. The MDNR does not have any obligation to a non-MDNR designated route.

Please see the Guidelines for Off Road Vehicle (ORV) Connector Routes on State Trunkline Highways for additional information.