The bridge that nobody wants
The Town of Truckee inherited a problem when the town incorporated in 1993. The problem is now 77 years old. I believe that it has been compromised with time and use. I’m referring to a railroad bridge that belongs to the Union Pacific Railroad and a road belongs to the State of California on Highway 89. This bridge is best known as the “mousehole.” The Town has earmarked $10 million of taxpayer funds to deal with this issues in 2010 at a capital project workshop this past fall.I asked Town Council at this meeting if this community was going to have to wait for a train to fall off that bridge or was a pedestrian or a cyclist going to have to be killed before something was done. The Council then directed staff to look into this matter and report back to council with a “white paper.” The town became the lead agency in 2003 to secure $498,000 in grant funds to begin project development activities because our famous Caltrans did not had adequate staffing resources to pursue the project. The funds were stalled due to statewide budget problem. Consequently nothing has been done. A half a million dollars sits in limbo.The federal government has now earmarked $2.8 million in federal funds with a required 20 percent matching funds, or $705,000. The half-million setting in limbo can offset the required matching funds if Caltrans becomes the lead agency. It appears that Caltrans now has the staff resources available to pursue the mousehole project.The Town of Truckee has no ownership, liability, or maintenance responsibilities for this railroad bridge/state road. Furthermore, the current availability of town staff resources to pursue this project is extremely limited at this time and is forecast to remain so for the indefinite future.The town had no business becoming involved in this issue. This was way beyond their scope of work. It would be in the best interest if the Union Pacific Railroad and Caltrans were to become partners. They need to take the responsibility and the lead in the replacement of this bridge. This is a railroad, State of California, Federal, and a Nevada/Placer County (regional) problem. The last people that should be paying for the replacement of the railroad bridge are the taxpayers of Truckee.In the interest of public safety, I believe that a pedestrian/cyclist tunnel should be bored immediately. A human life is worth more than doing nothing. It will take Caltrans 10 years of planning just to get a working design off the boards and another 10 years to get the funding. I rest my case with the 267 bypass. That bridge will be one hundred years old before it is replaced. It is time to demand that something be done.Dennis A. Dickinson is a Truckee resident.
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