Massachusetts will move toward what one congressman described as "a new chapter in Cape Cod's history" through an agreement with federal officials to replace the two bridges connecting the Cape to the mainland with wider, state-controlled successors.
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. William Conde signed a formal memorandum of understanding Tuesday to embark on a yearslong joint project to replace the 85-year-old Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, two economic and transportation linchpins that have been functionally obsolete for years.
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"These are more than bridges. These are lifelines," said Congressman Bill Keating, whose district includes both spans, in a video message played during the virtual signing event. "We need modern bridges that will deal with modern vehicles, modern commercial transport and open up passageways for bicycles and pedestrian traffic."
Under the agreement, the Corps will retain ownership and management of the Bourne and Sagamore for the duration of the construction and demolition project. The federal government will also pick up the tab, which the Corps previously estimated could range between $1.45 billion and $1.6 billion.
“All of us have driven over the Bourne and Sagamore bridges and noticed how narrow the lanes are, how close the oncoming traffic seems," Pollack said.
Once construction is complete, ownership of the new bridges will transfer from the corps to MassDOT, which state and federal officials described as a more natural fit that allows the department to align its work on surrounding roadways with the highly traveled canal crossings themselves.
“It's about time we do that versus paying to repair," Alan Costa of Plymouth said.
“Sundays it is brutal coming back. Fridays I can't go into Plymouth, I can't go to Buzzards Bay, it takes so long," bridge traveler Paul Miano, said.