Time for a new mousehole? | SierraSun.com

Time for a new mousehole?

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Caltrans | Ed Andersen

While Caltrans will unveil five alternatives to the existing mousehole in an open house on Wednesday, the project’s timeline will extend years into the future.

Caltrans is currently in the process of putting together project approval and environmental documents, which should be complete in a year and a half, said Dan Wilkins, Town of Truckee engineer.

“That will identify the scope of the project, as well as the environmental effects of the project,” Wilkins said.

After the initial paperwork is complete, plan specifications and estimates will take another two years, Wilkins said.

At that point, which may be three and a half to four years from now, Caltrans will be ready for construction. But because funds to pay for the entire project have not yet been secured, there are no guarantees as to when ground will be broken, Wilkins said.

In 2003, Truckee became the lead agency for the project in order to push for changes in the dangerously narrow tunnel beneath the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. After working with U.S. Rep. John Doolittle to get $2.8 million in federal funding for the mousehole, town officials said they realized the construction planning and design would be more appropriately handled by the state transportation agency.

“[Caltrans] seem to be interested in pursuing this project very aggressively,” Wilkins told the Sun in a previous interview. “They have an interest in helping us spend the federal dollars we have acquired.”

Maps, plans, and project schedules will be on display at Caltrans’ open house on Wednesday. Eight representatives from Caltrans and members of the town staff will be available to answer questions and take input on the project.

No formal presentation will be given, so people are free to come and go at any time during the open house.

“The purpose of this meeting is to accept comment and input from the public,” Wilkins said, “For people in the community who are interested in the mousehole, this would be an important meeting to attend.”

Mark Dinger, a spokesperson for Caltrans, said that public input would be considered along with other elements.

“It helps us narrow down what the public likes, so we can balance that against traffic and safety issues,” Dinger said.

He said that the project designer, an environmental person, and a traffic study person would be there to answer specific questions.

Caltrans will also have someone available to translate into Spanish, giving Spanish-speakers a chance to learn about and comment on the project.

For those unable to attend the workshop, the information is available on the town’s Web site, http://www.townoftruckee.com, and comments can be sent to District Three Director Jody Jones, 2389 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95833.

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