More on the Mousehole |

More on the Mousehole

In the face of enormous costs to rebuild the Mousehole into a bridge, the Town of Truckee is looking at different tunneling options.The Highway 89 south undercrossing of the Union Pacific Railroad has been a high priority for the Town of Truckee, who, working with Caltrans, wants to make a safer route for cyclists and pedestrians through the tunnel.If we can avoid the cost of the shoofly (a temporary bridge to re-route train traffic while building a new bridge) we could save millions of dollars, so we are trying to make the tunnels work, said Dan Wilkins, director of public works.Previous estimates for building a new bridge were between $46 and $52 million, with the temporary bridge alone costing $10 to $15 million, Wilkins said.What we would have engineers looking at would be three tunnels built in phases, Wilkins said. The first phase would be a pedestrian and cyclist tunnel to the east of the existing Mousehole, separating those users from motor vehicle traffic, he said.Then, a second tunnel to the west of the existing Mousehole would take southbound traffic out of the existing roadway, leaving the Mousehole dedicated to northbound vehicles, Wilkins said.With those two complete, the town and Caltrans could replace the Mousehole itself with a bigger, newer tunnel. The project could be completed without ever disturbing train operations, Wilkins said.Along with the decrease in cost, Wilkins said there would be less environmental impact during construction, notably to Donner Creek to the east, just before it empties into the Truckee River.The town will meet with Caltrans in June to discuss the potential change in plans, Wilkins said.$2.8 million in federal money has been earmarked for the Mousehole project. Greyson Howard Sierra Sun

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