EDITOR: What do you think of our new tourist attraction under Highway 50? Of all things to build, a deer tunnel with a construction cost of around $1.6 million.
With our highways in need of repair or add traffic signals, why the construction of a deer tunnel? For those of you that do not commute to Sacramento daily, the location of the attraction is between El Dorado Road and Greenstone Road.
Why now? Why at all? Will its completion help with your commute trip to Sacramento? I have driven Highway 50 for many years, but I may be able to count the number of dead deer along the highway on two hands. How did Caltrans pick that spot as the place to put the tunnel? Maybe there are plans for more in the near future.
Let us look at the project with common sense. Deer will not travel from El Dorado Road all the way to the tunnel about half a mile further west to cross the freeway. They will cross the freeway where they are at the time. I’ve never heard of deer going into any tunnel at any time. I believe it is not in their nature to enter a tunnel for survival reasons. Maybe the next step will be to train them to go into tunnels. Or maybe we will have a deer roundup and then herd them through the tunnel.
Years ago, Caltrans put two tunnels under Highway 152 at the interchange at Highway 33 near Santa Nella with the hope of saving kit foxes. I heard motion sensor cameras were installed to record any kit fox that might go into the tunnels. A four-foot-high chain link fence was installed on both sides of the freeway, but about a foot was buried in the ground to keep the foxes from going under the fence. I guess foxes can’t dig. Anyway, the sad part of the story at the time, local people told me they had not seen a kit fox in years. I wonder if the cameras, if installed caught a glimpse of the elusive little creatures.
My point is this project used funds that could have done more to help our highways at a time when every dollar counts. It would have paid for a traffic signal at Patterson Drive and Highway 49. Maybe we could put a tunnel in there to help with the traffic congestion on weekdays. Emergency vehicles must have a heck of a time when the schools let out. I know if you think about road conditions, more places will come to your attention.
I have had people tell me the project was good because it put more people to work and the money stays in El Dorado County. I agree with their sentiment, just not with the nature of the project now under way. We need our highways and roads improved first. We need to stop all the frivolous money spending on gingerbread and visual aesthetics like fake rocks in overpasses and projects of little good to our highways and roads. We as the paying party deserve to have input on our highways and road projects. Tell the Board of Supervisors, councilmen and Caltrans of your concerns.