New Sagamore and Bourne Bridges Would Benefit Cape Cod’s Community
In the movie Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella travels to Massachusetts to meet with radical author Terrance Mann as part of the puzzle to figure out what he was destined to do.
Eventually, he hears a voice tell him, “If you build it, they will come,” referring to a baseball stadium in an Iowa Cornfield.
After five years of studying traffic, public meetings and internal brainstorming sessions, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) seems to have been hearing a somewhat similar voice emanating from Cape Cod:
“They’re going to come anyway, so you better build it.”
This, of course, is in reference to two new bridges that MassDOT is recommending for access to and from Cape Cod that would replace a pair of aging bridges that are completely outdated and no longer viable to the long-term health of the Cape Cod community and economy.
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In May, MassDOT released the findings of their study (in PDF) that recommended replacing both the Sagamore and Bourne bridges, as well as other roadway improvements, to combat the increases in travelers that are expected in the next 20 years, as well as make the commutes into an off of the Cape much safer.
Both bridges are more than 80 years old and are narrow and a bit rickety. They are only 48-feet wide and have been deemed by MassDOT as no longer properly functional when considering the amount of travel they have to support today, and on top of that, they aren’t structurally sound enough to last much longer.
Consider an influx of traffic expected to use these bridges in the coming decades – traffic on Sagamore is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent over the next 20 years – and the need for an upgrade is paramount.
Both bridges were built in the 1930s as a way to cross the canal, which was built in 1916, but that’s when the population on the Cape was only 26,000 residents.
Now, both bridges fall well-behind modern architectural standards and it’s only getting worse. Soon, trucks may be banned from crossing the bridges, which would put a major crimp into the Cape’s economy and adversely affect Cape Cod residents and local businesses.
Cape area residents and businesses depend on reliable and efficient travel over the Canal and it’s not just to keep the economy thriving as it needs to import goods.
Safety is another critical component of access to and from the Cape as severe weather and medical emergencies require safe and timely passage back to mainland Massachusetts.
These aging bridges currently experience consistent lane closures for maintenance and cost the state and local taxpayers an estimated $30 million annually.
MassDOT made the recommendation for the new bridges, but both fall under the auspices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The whole state is eagerly awaiting the release of the Engineers’ Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report, which will determine if the bridges should continue to undergo regular maintenance or be replaced entirely.
In the meantime, Massachusetts lawmakers are being asked to consider getting started on additional roadway projects as recommended by MassDOT that would fix connecting roadways to the bridges to clear up bottlenecking and other congestion.
The notion is that even if the new bridges aren’t built, this would alleviate some of the traffic tie-ups that choke travel to and from the Cape. And if the new bridges are approved, then the state would be ahead of the game in ending years of frustration when driving to Cape Cod.
MassDOT recommended a plan that would build the new bridges around the existing structures and would widen them from 48 feet to 138 feet, creating six 12-foot wide lanes as opposed to the current four-10-foot wide lanes. Additionally, a 10-foot wide median would be built as well as a walking path and a bike path.
The total cost of building these new bridges is estimated to be approximately $1 billion.