An agreement has been made in good faith between the Vilas County Highway Committee and concerned residents regarding Highway K, also known as Rustic Road 60.

Highway K is the only Rustic Road in Vilas County.

At a highway committee meeting May 17, landowners along the Rustic Road were permitted to speak but not allowed to ask questions.

No action was taken by officials which invigorated members of the Save Our Rustic Road group to pursue the issue they referred to as “unnecessary and detrimental to the county.” The group then ramped up its efforts, displaying signs down the 12-mile stretch of Rustic Road 60 and garnering support.

Members from the Save Our Rustic Road group were invited to join a meeting May 26 with members from the highway department, Vilas County Board supervisors, forestry personnel from the state and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Rustic Roads Board Vice Chairman Dan Fetterly.

As a result of that meeting, a verbal agreement in good faith was reached on many of the issues surrounding Highway K. A written plan is in the process of being finalized.

“Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we had some positive meetings over the last couple of days. Although we have not crossed the finish line, we have made important progress,” said Doug Scott, co-founder of Save Our Rustic Road.

At the meeting, county highway officials committed to working with community representatives to establish ground rules and a written process for vegetation maintenance, road maintenance and road improvements. The county committee agreed to hold off on any brushing until the written process is finalized.

Officials at the meeting indicated that some trees would still need to be cut down for safety reasons — specifically dead trees, trees with low hanging branches that could interfere with large trucks and buses, and trees that created a safety hazard. The highway department will mark trees that are recommended to be cut and obtain input from community representatives on selected trees.

Officials indicated that the highway department no longer intends to eliminate the tree tunnels or canopies along Highway K, and said there is no plan to straighten any existing curve in Rustic Road 60.

Clean up of what is left over from brushing this winter will be deferred until the written process is finalized.

Still up for debate is the proposed 3-foot paved shoulders along Highway K. It was suggested by a Rustic Road Board member that the road qualified for shared use status because of its low traffic volumes, and also that having a paved shoulder on just one side of the road was a possibility. However, the county highway department did not commit to any of those approaches and is still considering its options.

“I am encouraged by the commitments made at this meeting, and we should know in the next few weeks whether things are working out as positively as I am hoping,” said Scott.

He added that in the meantime, members of the group will initiate a “temporary cease-fire” of media publicity as well as other efforts, as a show of good faith on their end, but said that if progress is not made they plan to re-initiate their efforts in full.