Truckee Mousehole: More short-term fixes on the way this summer |

Truckee Mousehole: More short-term fixes on the way this summer

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The big fix for Truckeeand#8217;s arch-shaped vehicle undercrossing may not yet be certain, but it appears some interim measures are on the way this summer.

The Town of Truckee and Caltrans are working on plans to make the Highway 89 south undercrossing of the Union Pacific Railroad, known as the Mousehole, more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists.

Their long-term plan is to build a second tunnel specifically for non-motorized use to the east of the main tunnel, but uncertain funding and approval from Union Pacific mean the soonest such a solution could be constructed would be 2012, said Dan Wilkins, director of public works and engineering for the town.

In the short term, Wilkins said Caltrans is planning work this summer and#8212; including more modifications to the guardrails on either side, lighting inside the tunnel and a flashing light activated by pedestrians to let drivers know someone is walking in the tunnel.

and#8220;About six months ago, Caltrans contacted us saying the about $450,000 for the project wasnand#8217;t available, but now theyand#8217;ve notified us they do have the funding to proceed,and#8221; said Wilkins, regarding this summerand#8217;s modifications.

Caltrans starting making changes two winters ago, modifying the guard rails to make it easier for pedestrians to stay out of traffic when approaching the tunnel, and painting the inside of the tunnel white, with the hopes of increasing the visibility of pedestrians, Wilkins said.

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While the townand#8217;s and Caltransand#8217; long-term solution of choice is a second tunnel for pedestrians and cyclists, they may have some convincing to do first, as Union Pacific Railroad has expressed concerns about boring a tunnel under their tracks, Wilkins said.

and#8220;We believe weand#8217;ll be able to get approval by alleviating their concerns with more detailed plans,and#8221; he said, a level of planning that likely will take another one-and-a-half to two years, he said.

Current estimates for the project put the total cost at about $9 million, and Wilkins said he and Caltrans are talking with California Rep. Tom McClintock and Sens. Dianne Feinstein Barbara Boxer in hopes of applying for Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization funds to pay for the project.

Phone calls to Caltrans were not returned for this story.