Helmet law enforcement to hit Spillway ATV riders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2001

Leonard Gray

NORCO n The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is warning all-terrain vehicle (ATV) users in the Bonnet Carre Spillway of the new rules, effective now. As part of the Corps master plan for use of the recreational use of the 7,623-acre spillway, approved in July 1998 after public hearings, all ATV users must use helmets which meet federal standards and also refrain from alcohol use.
Reaction from ATV riders were mixed.
Adrian LeBlanc of Mandeville, when told of the rules, agreed and added, “Id never get on a bike without a helmet.”
LeBlanc, whose ATV unexpectedly slipped off a crumbling road edge into a canal filled with axle-deep mud, says he fully understands the need, especially for young, inexperienced riders.
While his vehicle remained upright in the accident, it just as easily might not have, and he could have been injured.
On the other hand, Richard Lemoine of River Ridge, said hes been a motorcycle rider since he was a teen-ager and never used a helmet. Lemoine said though that the way ATVs are built, spills are highly unlikely and he had no intention of getting a helmet.
He did agree with LeBlanc about the need to ban alcohol beverages from the ATV area.
“In the beginning of the summer, everybodys out here drunk,” Lemoine said.
The ATV area is located immediately south of the Airline Drive bridge, opposite the boat launch area, on the side toward the Mississippi River.
The Bonnet Carre Spillway is used by 250,000 people, according to the Corps, for various recreational uses, including boating, fishing, camping, biking, hunting, dog training, go-cart use and model airplane flying.
The Corps owns and polices the property with an on-site park ranger who has contact with local and state police. The Spillway itself is a 7.5-mile- long channel built in the 1930s to divert flood-swollen river water to Lake Pontchartrain. It has been used eight times since 1931 for that purpose.
Additional information on the rules are available on bulletin boards in the Spillway, on the Internet at http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/recreation/ or by calling park ranger Greg Malon at 764-0126.