Need serious cheddar to fix mousehole | SierraSun.com

Need serious cheddar to fix mousehole

George Robertson

The letter to the editor (“Solving the mousehole puzzle” Sierra Sun May 11) ends with the sentence “I think Caltrans, or the Town of Truckee, could bore a tunnel under the rails in 2005.” Right on. This could be done and should be done, no later than this fall. Here is some background.Eight years ago, the Nevada County Transportation Commission paid a large sum to Nolte & Associates for a study of the possibilities at State Route 89 as it passes under Union Pacific tracks. Nolte’s report to the council at a 1997 meeting gave four possibilities:• Pedestrian/bicycle bore – $2.5 million• Two-lane center span – $3.5M• Matching “mousehole” – $4.8M• Four-lane steel trestle – $7.5MThese are in 1997 dollars. What would these costs be in 2005-06 money?A front page headline in a recent Sierra Sun exclaimed “Mousehole funding passes House.” It is my understanding that the Senate has passed its appropriation bill and the legislation now goes to the negotiation committee between the House and Senate. At this point we don’t know if the $3.5 million requested by us will come out of committee intact, or perhaps less.If some money finally reaches us, what do we do with it? As it stands now, town staff (not the council, as they have never had any part of this problem presented to them) would, according to them, spend $1.5 million to $2 million of whatever we receive on engineering and staff time, on further studies of options 2, 3, 4 above. When asked if the pedestrian/bicycle bore could be done for the $3.5 million we hope to receive, the town engineer said it might be a possibility.So, I submit that the parallel bore should be our first and main objective. This could possibly be accomplished before the snow flies this year. Further studies and engineering of the $10 million trestle alternative will just delay a solution for four or five more years. This, in addition to the eight years since the NCTC study was presented to the council. This brings up another point: How can we finance the four-lane trestle in 2010, which by then could carry a $12 million price tag – or even more?Let us get busy on the bore, which would separate pedestrians and bicycles from the automobiles; and let the “mousehole” do what it was built to do almost 80 years ago – to carry automobile traffic under the railroad. And, for me, it has done its job admirably. On its birthday in 2009, let’s paint it up, dress it up and give it a party.George Robertson is a Truckee resident.