Mousehole may see pedestrian light | SierraSun.com

Mousehole may see pedestrian light

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Highway traffic may be waiting for pedestrians and cyclists at Truckee’s dangerous “mousehole” tunnel if the first part of a three-pronged solution to the railroad undercrossing moves forward.

The Town of Truckee and the state are searching for funding to erect a pedestrian light at the tunnel on Highway 89 South that would allow pedestrians and cyclists to have the road to themselves.

But even as they work on that short-term fix, the jurisdictions are also hammering out the final solutions for the roadway ” boring a tunnel for pedestrians and, later, replacing the tunnel with a wide bridge.

The bridge project carries a price tag of between $46 and $52 million.

Sidewalks, bike lanes, and up to four lanes of traffic would fit under the bridge, according to staff reports, addressing both traffic and safety issues that the town set out to fix.

“I’m somewhat encouraged we have movement on this,” said Denny Dickinson, a Truckee resident and long-time proponent of replacing the Mousehole. “I think we’re doing the right thing.”

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The Town of Truckee has already committed $1.9 million for environmental review of the project.

“The money being spent is not local, it’s federal,” said Public Works Director Dan Wilkins last Thursday. “Three years ago [Congressman John] Doolittle’s office got $2.8 million earmarked for the Town of Truckee to develop the Mousehole project.”

“2012 is the earliest we could take the project to construction if the funding is available,” said Caltrans Project manager Winder Bajwa. “The pedestrian tunnel could probably happen sooner but we would need to find money first.”

Cyclists, as well as pedestrians, are concerned about the safety at the Mousehole ” which leads to popular cycling along Highway 89 South.

Paco Lindsay, owner of Paco’s Bike and Ski, said he’s all for the long-term solution bridge, but has some reservations about the interim tunnel option.

“I like the bore for pedestrians, but I’m worried about kicking cyclists off the road,” Lindsay said in a phone interview. “Whatever side the bore is not on will make cyclists stop and cross traffic to get to it.”

Accompanying signs like “share the road” could help cyclist safety, he said.

Pedestrians would benefit from a signal that stops highway traffic, Lindsay said, but he questioned whether or not cyclists would actually stop to trigger the light.