Union Pacific Railroad needs convincing on Mousehole | SierraSun.com

Union Pacific Railroad needs convincing on Mousehole

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Union Pacific Railroad Courtesy PhotoA Union Pacific double-stack train exits a tunnel recently retrofitted to take the taller locomotive on Donner Summit.
ALL |

TRUCKEE and#8212; Union Pacific Railroad officials aren’t on board with plans to create a pedestrian tunnel at the Mousehole undercrossing, but town planners think they can change their minds.

The Town of Truckee and Caltrans have been working together for years on a safe way to get pedestrians and cyclists through the Highway 89 south undercrossing of the railroad tracks, known as the Mousehole. The preferred solution they’ve landed on is a separate tunnel to the east with a trail connecting the sidewalk opposite Deerfield Drive to West River Street.

and#8220;We sent the initial submittal to Union Pacific Railroad about a month ago with the preliminary design for the pedestrian bore, and got a letter back saying they were concerned about the construction process … they wouldn’t at this stage approve the pedestrian bore,and#8221; said Dan Wilkins, director of public works and engineering. and#8220;But that wasn’t necessarily a surprise, we were expecting the railroad would need an additional level of detail before they could get comfortable.and#8221;

The concerns are that the construction of a pedestrian bore could cause the tracks to settle, Wilkins said.

Before the concrete tunnel was constructed, a wooden trestle spanned the road and creek, which the railroad buried in the tunnels construction process, so Union Pacific is also concerned about the new tunnel’s effect on the trestle remnants, he said.

The consulting company HDR, contracted with the town, will continue in the planning process and bring detailed design to Union Pacific.

The planning and environmental work is expected to take the $3.5 million the project has had to date down to $.5 million, Wilkins said, meaning the town and Caltrans will have to look for an additional $4 to $5 million to construct the tunnel, if approved.

He said Truckee won’t likely find funding from the state, so the town will work with Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, and other representatives to try and get Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill funds.

and#8220;The bill out of Washington appears to be the only possible funding source,and#8221; Wilkins said.

If the town is successful in getting those funds, the soonest they could start construction on the pedestrian tunnel would be 2011, he said.

Union Pacific’s first double-stack freight train rumbled through Truckee Monday morning and up through the now taller tunnels on Donner Summit.

Union Pacific raised the roof and lowered the floor on 18,000 feet of line in 15 tunnels between Truckee and Rocklin over the last 12 months, according to a press release, allowing their double-stack trains to take the shorter route over Donner Pass as apposed to the previous Feather River Canyon route to the north.

The use of the Donner Summit route can save as much as 73 miles or three hours, depending on the destination, according to the press release.

The change won’t increase the number of trains moving through Truckee, however, wrote Union Pacific Spokesman Tom Lange, with the total number staying at between 15 to 18 per day.

According to the press release, a single Union Pacific double-stack intermodal train can take up to 300 trucks off of highways such as Interstate 80, and are at least four times more fuel-efficient than trucks and#8212; Union Pacific can move one ton 830 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel.