In a strategy change from past efforts, Governor Maura Healey announced that this month the state will begin pursuing federal funds to initially replace just one of the two aging Cape Cod bridges. The administration contends that seeking aid for only the Sagamore Bridge, and postponing updating the Bourne Bridge, will increase the state’s chances to cover the larger project’s massive cost.
The new approach by the Healey-Driscoll Administration comes after two bids to secure funding to replace both bridges to Cape Cod were rejected within the last year.
Worried about getting to the Cape? Don’t freak out – yet. State officials, according to the Boston Globe, say it could take up to eight years to replace each one, with construction beginning on the Sagamore Bridge in 2028.
It won’t be cheap though (it never is!). Officials say they now believe replacing the two bridges will cost $4.5 billion, up from a projected $4 billion last year and roughly $1 billion just a few years ago.
The backstory here is that nearly four years ago, the federal government agreed that the aging bridges, which were constructed in the 1930s, needed to be replaced, even at the high cost. However, getting the funds has proved difficult, with federal funding for both bridges being denied several times.
Both bridges are considered functionally obsolete by the Army Corps of Engineers, who own and operate them. Beyond that, they’re not wide enough to have a shoulder for broken-down cars, and as anyone who goes to the Cape knows, they easily bottleneck with weekend traffic.
According to WCVB, both bridges are in structural trouble, but since the Sagamore brings drivers directly onto the Mid-Cape Highway (Route 6), it has a higher traffic volume and should be replaced first. The administration said it plays a vital role in Cape Cod’s economic viability. Healey said her administration remains committed to replacing both the Sagamore and Bourne bridges long term.
Officials have said traffic would continue to flow over the current bridges while the new ones are built, with the old ones later being demolished, so when the work starts it won’t impact your summer.