Truckee receives Caltrans award for Mousehole project

Hannah Jones

The design and construction of Truckee’s “Mini-Mousehole” project, a pedestrian tunnel along Highway 89 which crosses under the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, earned the project the Caltrans Intermodal Transportation Project of the Year award.

“It was a very exciting time when we were working on this project,” said Winder Bajwa, a Caltrans project manager who noted the state agency received over 100 entries that year awarding one winner for each of the 13 categories.

According to Bajwa, the Intermodal award is presented to projects that demonstrate an integration of motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians persons with disabilities, while increasing the safety of all the projects users.

“That’s really important to us,” said Bajwa.

The project involved the removal of over 900 cubic yards of soil and rock, as well as the construction of portal walls, a paved pathway and a Truckee Tahoe Regional Transit shelter. In order to excavate the tunnel, the project used a unique machine that could dig through the dirt while the railroad was still in use.

“This project displayed ingenuity and innovation in construction methods,” said Bajwa.

“Winder’s role was to get all those people within Caltrans working productively on the Mousehole project,” said Truckee Public Works Director Dan Wilkins, adding there are about 25 different Caltrans divisions involved. “There was a lot of coordination and collaboration on the Mousehole project to make it successful.”

In addition to working with multiple government agencies, the project had to get approval from Union Pacific Railroad before digging beneath the tracks. Bajwa said one of the judges actually congratulated the town for obtaining approval from the railroad company. Following 20 years of planning and work, the project was finally completed.

“It was a very important project to us so I’m glad to see it turned out so well,” said Pat Casey of HDR Engineering who was hired as the town’s project manager.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or

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