Pedestrian tunnel may be next for Mousehole | SierraSun.com

Pedestrian tunnel may be next for Mousehole

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE ” The Truckee Town Council could decide to pursue a pedestrian tunnel parallel to the Mousehole Thursday.

Working with Caltrans, the town has been looking for ways to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety at the Highway 89 undercrossing of the Union Pacific Railroad, known as the Mousehole.

Along the way, the town has looked at options like replacing the tunnel with a bridge or adding more tunnels for traffic and pedestrians, but prohibitive costs have town staff looking to a small pedestrian and cyclist tunnel first.

“We’re recommending to the town council that the remaining funding be dedicated to the pedestrian bore,” said Dan Wilkins, director of public works and engineering.

That’s about $2.3 million left in the town’s budget for the Mousehole, against a probable project cost of about $4 to $5 million.

“If the funding is available this could take two-to-three years, but given additional funding isn’t available, it’s realistically three to five years,” Wilkins said.

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But making up the additional funding for the pedestrian bore is a lot less daunting than the $50 to $60 million a whole new bridge would cost, or the $30 million for a second traffic tunnel, Wilkins said.

Truckee resident Denny Dickinson said he was happy to see a solution forthcoming.

“Things are looking pretty good,” Dickinson said. “I might actually see a pedestrian bore in my lifetime.”

He said earlier concerns about the tunnels condition and safety ” built in 1928 ” would be allayed if the state OKs it.

Cycling advocated Paco Lindsay and owner of Paco’s Bike and Ski said he likes the solution, but he has some reservations.

“My main concern is that southbound cyclists will have to cross traffic twice to get to the tunnel,” Lindsay said. “As long as cyclists are allowed to go through the traffic tunnel I’m for it.”

In the mean time Caltrans could add to the temporary measures started last fall, including lighting inside the tunnel and pedestrian-activated flashing lights, Wilkins said.