Truckee’s mini Mousehole gets initial environmental nod from Caltrans to move forward | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s mini Mousehole gets initial environmental nod from Caltrans to move forward

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun
Sun File PhotoCrews work over the summer on pedestrian improvements and shoulder repaving inside the Mousehole undercrossing on Highway 89. The project included pedestrian flashing beacons, signs, street lights and pedestrian push button lights inside the tunnel for added safety.
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TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Town officials are proceeding with plans for a pedestrian tunnel at the Mousehole undercrossing after an initial study by state transportation officials declared the project free of negative environmental impacts.

At this month’s town council meeting, councilmembers unanimously authorized Mayor Richard Anderson to sign a letter to Caltrans and#8212; which performed the study and#8212; asking to allow staff and the project’s hired consultants, HDR Engineering, to continue design work.

The idea is to construct a multi-use path and tunnel and#8212; a mini Mousehole and#8212; along with other roadside improvements on the east side of Highway 89 between West River Street and Deerfield Drive.

and#8220;The proposed project would have minimal or no effect on agriculture and forest resources, air quality, cultural resources, geology and soils, land use and planning, mineral resources, noise, population and housing, public services recreation and utilities,and#8221; the Caltrans study said.

It further concluded the project would have no adverse effects on water rights or quality, animal species, vegetation and scenic resources.

Becky Bucar, the town’s assistant engineer, said after a public comment period ends March 7, the town must wait for HDR to complete 30 percent of the design plans, and then in April or May, it would likely have to enter into a cooperative agreement with Caltrans for the next phase of evaluation, ultimately awaiting an approval from Union Pacific Railroad.

Last October, Town Engineer Dan Wilkins said the project would likely need to get 60 percent or 90 percent of its design work completed before Union Pacific will consider approval.

Union Pacific has expressed safety concerns in the past, saying the bore carving out the pedestrian tunnel could cause the track above to cave in, potentially harming construction crews and the trains running above.

Last October, Aaron Hunt, director of Corporate Relations and Media for Union Pacific Railroad’s western region, said the railroad would need to view an in-depth plan before making commitments; however, after enjoying a and#8220;wonderfuland#8221; working relationship with the town for many years, the railroad will do its best to see the town’s safety needs are met.

and#8220;We are more than happy to sit down with the different stakeholders there for finding a way to see this project through,and#8221; Hunt said.

A return phone call on Thursday to Hunt’s office seeking further comment was not immediately returned.