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Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks Cape Cod bridges, housing, 2024 plans

Elizabeth Warren headshot
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren

In her first interview with CAI, the Democrat says Biden's proposed $600 million to replace the bridges is a start—but isn't enough.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren praised President Biden's $600 million pledge toward replacing the Bourne and Sagamore bridges but acknowledged that the commitment falls short of the estimated $4 billion project.

"You're right, it's not enough money," Warren told Morning Edition host Patrick Flanary on Friday, the day after Biden released his $7 trillion budget. The proposal faces resistance from the Republican-controlled House.

"This is the budget from which we at least start the negotiations," Warren, a Democrat, said. "The job now is to get the federal government to raise its number [to replace the bridges], and to get the governor to the table with the federal government so that, between the two of them, we get the deal inked."

"Our administration remains committed to working closely with our local, state, and federal partners to see this through," Gov. Healey said in a statement on Thursday.

The bridges were built in 1935 and are designated functionally obsolete. MassDOT has furnished designs and estimates the overhaul to begin in 2027. Construction is expected to take up to eight years.

Last month Warren wrote to the acting MassDOT secretary that former Gov. Baker, a Republican, had "dropped the ball on prioritizing state support to replace these critical bridges."

Biden's proposed budget authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to transfer ownership of the reconstructed bridges to the state, which would be responsible for operation and maintenance.

About half of people crossing the bridges each day to work on the Cape cannot afford to live here, according to Housing Assistance Corporation.

Last year Nantucket's fire chief told lawmakers he worried his staff would become a "commuter department," with his firefighters living hours away from the island. Elsewhere in the region, some former school superintendents have retired due to skyrocketing housing costs, and police departments from Falmouth to Fall River consistently report dozens of job vacancies.

Warren condemned the Cape's lack of year-round housing options but said it is the region's responsibility to address access to affordable and workforce housing.

"I don't think this is a place where the federal government should come in," Warren said. "The Cape needs to decide what the right housing plan is for the Cape. But what the federal government can do is come in with money."

Warren is running for reelection in the Senate and said she supports Biden for a second presidential term in 2024. As president, Warren said, "you've got to be willing to talk about increasing taxes on the richest Americans and the biggest corporations."

The region's housing crisis has benefitted some of those wealthiest Americans locally, with the average Nantucket home valued at more than $3 million.

Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, live in Cambridge and reported $1.3 million in income in 2021, according to The Boston Globe.

Listen to Sen. Warren's interview by clicking the LISTEN button above.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.