Cape Cod Canal bridges slated for replacement in next decade
For months now, U.S. Representative William Keating and U.S. Senses Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren have touted their role in raising federal funds to replace the aging Sagamore and Bourne Bridges.
So, is the money on the way? May be.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, owner of the 87-year-old bridges, is working with state transportation officials on a request for a portion of the $27 billion set aside for replacement and repair of bridges in the President Biden’s infrastructure bill, which he signed late. Last year.
Neither federal nor state officials can say whether the Army Corps’ request for about $1.5 billion will be accepted, but the request is one of the best in the country, Keating said in a recent meeting with the Times.
He based his optimistic assessment on the fact that the Corps is working with the state, which has already earmarked $350 million in bonds for the bridge projects as part of a $16 transportation bond bill. million dollars signed by Governor Charlie Baker in January 2021.
But state and federal agencies need to expedite construction, Keating said, before the bridges require major rehabilitation. He said construction of at least one of the bridges should begin within five years.
Uncertainty about if and when the project will move forward is making local officials, residents and businesses anxious to know how the project will affect them.
Bourne’s selectors have spoken out in an effort to push federal and state governments to be more forthcoming about bridge designs and plans. Chairman Peter Meier said Tuesday that Bourne should have “a seat at the table” in design discussions.
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“Communication to date has not been the best. The bridges affect daily life in Bourne. Ultimately, we who live here are the most affected,” Meier said.
Marie Oliva, CEO and president of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, said uncertainty about when the bridge replacement project will move forward is worrying businesses and residents near the current bridges.
“There’s a big question mark there,” she said.
Planning needs to involve more than new spans, said Jared MacDonald, Bourne Selectman, “to include exit ramps and how traffic should flow around the canal. We can’t just change everything so everyone goes. faster to go down the Cape.”
the A $350 million state bond bill will address route changes and there will be a state project manager for those projects, state Rep. David Vieira, R-Falmouth, said during the the meeting.
The city and the Bourne Recreation Authority need to know what’s going on before the money is spent, especially with the authority considering the design of amenities and possibly buildings at Scenic Park under the Bourne Bridge, a- he declared.
Keating spoke about the structural integrity of the bridges and cited a 2020 Army Corps of Engineers study, which found that replacing the bridges would be less expensive than major rehabilitation of the Bourne or Sagamore bridges.
The Sagamore Bridge will likely need major rehabilitation by 2025 and the Bourne Bridge by 2030, said Scott Acone, assistant district engineer for the US Army Corps of Engineers New England District.
The replacement of the bridges will interrupt the lives of Cape Town residents and business owners located near the bridges and all who travel to Cape Cod.
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“It’s a major problem, it affects the very livelihoods of a quarter of a million people who live here year-round,” Keating said.
The joint request, if granted, could cover up to half the cost of replacing the two bridges, which will collectively cost about $1.5 billion, Acone said.
Both Keating and Acone are optimistic that the joint application has a good chance of being approved.
“Of all the candidates, this nomination is the best placed, perhaps in the country,” Keating said. And not just because state and federal authorities are working together.
The Bourne and Sagamore bridges are aging infrastructure that serve as escape routes for Cape Town and the islands, which is part of why the project is a strong candidate under the wording of Biden’s bill, Acone said.
Once the new bridges are built, the state will take possession of them and be responsible for their maintenance, Keating said.
In concept, the replacement bridges will have wider traffic lanes, a breakdown lane, a multi-purpose lane for pedestrians and cyclists, and a lane where people can accelerate, decelerate and merge.
However, as the design phase progresses, the Corps will seek public feedback on the project, Acone said.
If the project does not receive funding, Cape Town could find itself in an untenable position, said Steven Tupper, Cape Cod Commission deputy director and transportation program manager.
“The importance of bridges to Cape Cod cannot be overstated,” he said. “It’s really critical to the ability of the area’s transportation system to meet the current and future demands of Cape Cod residents, visitors and businesses.”
Tupper said if Cape Town finds itself in a position where a bridge needs to be closed for repairs with no alternative, it could cause unacceptable delays for motorists.
The bridges affect daily activities such as buses taking children to school, local emergency transport, as well as the region in terms of the supply of goods and services, he said.
“When you have a problem with one of the bridges, it impacts all the communities in our area,” he said.
Paul Gately, a Times freelancer, contributed to this report.
Contact Asad Jung at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @asadjungcct.