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Snirt Run damage blamed for Denning Road closure in Pinckney

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BARNES CORNERS — Cut cables, unauthorized plowing, an evening accident caused by road conditions and now an impassable route have led to the partial closure of Denning Road in the town of Pinckney following Saturday’s annual all-terrain-vehicle poker ride, the Snirt Run.

Cables were cut on a state Department of Transportation counter set up to calculate the number of ATVs operated on Denning Road for the event, approximately a half mile from Seven by Nine Road.

Donald M. Cook, Pinckney highway superintendent, said the equipment had been installed about a week before the event.

When DOT employees came to pick up the instrument, they stopped by the town barn to show him.

“Both cables had been clipped,” he said.

The DOT has placed the units, which calculate traffic by sound, throughout the county to track snowmobile data for 10 years.

No incidents of damage or tampering have been reported in the past.

Michael R. Flick, DOT Region 7 spokesman, said, “We will chalk this up to experience and people or persons who could have otherwise chosen to express their feelings in a more productive manner. Beyond that, this was little more than an inconvenience.”

Depending on when the cables were cut, data from the Snirt Run may be retrievable.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office might investigate the incident.

Denning Road, which extends from Seven by Nine Road to Route 189, is part of the Lewis County ATV trail system and also is used as a snowmobile trail.

Due to its permitted use, the town did not need to open it specifically for the Snirt Run.

In preparation, event organizers from the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals Snowmobile Club plowed the road to reduce the chance of ATV operators becoming stuck.

However, “they did not have permission to remove snow from town roads,” said Pinckney Town Supervisor Sherry J. Harmych. “It’s not against the law, but it would have been nice had they approached the highway department.”

ATV use now has rendered the road unusable, with soft mud, potholes and deep ruts.

“We’ve had to close the road,” Mr. Cook said. “It’s impassable unless you have a four-wheel drive with good tires. We’ve kept it open for local traffic to camps and emergency vehicles.”

Mr. Cook said he traveled the road Monday with Sno-Pals club President Gary R. Stinson to survey the damage.

As for reopening and repairs, “we’re going to wait and see,” Mr. Cook said. After it dries some and the town grades it, “we’ll see what we have,” he said.

Mrs. Harmych said “Under normal conditions, this is not a problem. If the snow could have melted naturally, we wouldn’t be having this issue.”

The road conditions also were blamed for an ATV roll-over accident Saturday evening.

A Snirt Run participant, Raymond G. Hansen Jr., 62, of East Hampton, Conn., drove over several potholes on the ice- and mud-covered road that caused him to lose control of his vehicle, according to a sheriff’s report.

The ATV tipped over onto its side after Mr. Hansen lost control and plowed into a snowbank. He was treated at Lewis County General Hospital, Lowville, for back pain.

The accident has been reported to the town’s insurance carrier.

Denning Road is approximately one mile from the Sno-Pals groomer barn on Route 177.

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