Beacon Hill has struggled to secure federal funds for the nearly $4 billion project to replace the Cape Cod Bridges, and Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey now thinks there's enough financial bandwidth to commit twice as many state dollars toward the crucial work.
Healey wants to steer as much as $700 million from existing pots toward replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
The Boston Globe first reported about the administration's new stance on Wednesday.
That's up from $350 million in bond funding included in an infrastructure bill former Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law in January 2021, which called for that money to go toward improving the approaches to both spans "and to prepare for and to leverage federal investments and improvements to each bridge."
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Healey's office said the governor is not planning any new legislation and believes the state can administratively double its commitment by using previously approved bond authorizations and federal infrastructure allotments.
It's unclear whether putting more funding toward the bridge replacement efforts will impact other projects in the state's capital budgets.
The Healey administration plans to include $263 million in funding for the Cape bridges replacement in the capital investment plan for fiscal years 2024-2028, which will be finalized by early June, the spokesperson said.
Quentin Palfrey, Healey's director of federal funds and infrastructure, called replacement of the bridges "critical for Massachusetts' communities and economy" and labeled it a "top priority of our administration."
"MassDOT is actively working with the Federal Highway Administration to review the schedule, permitting and project delivery options," Palfrey said in a statement. "The results of that review will inform active conversations that the Governor and her team are having with our federal delegation, USDOT, and the Army Corps about the project proposal -- as well as what resources can be utilized to ensure that the project moves forward."
Officials believe the costs of replacing the bridges, which opened in 1935 and have been deemed "functionally obsolete" by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will approach $4 billion as a result of inflation.
The Biden administration has rejected several grant bids for money to help with the replacement projects, though President Joe Biden himself proposed $350 million toward the project in his fiscal year 2024 national budget proposal and called it part of "a commitment of $600 million."
It's unclear whether the funding will survive in the final federal budget.