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Close-up on Bourne and Sagamore bridges: Open house draws hundreds

A Bourne gymnasium buzzed with activity yesterday as hundreds of Cape Cod residents — plus others from “over the bridge” — turned out for the state’s first in-person open house on the replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges.

Visitors had the chance to ask questions of bridge engineers and other project staff at eight stations, each focused on a different aspect of the project.

Bourne resident Bill Thompson said he was happy to see the designers working to separate vehicles headed farther down the Cape from local traffic.

“I'm impressed with the design concepts of separating regional and local traffic,” he said. “That's the chief concern of all the bottlenecks that I see.”

Displays included maps of the road connections, renderings of the bridge design, and a layout of travel lanes.

Sandy Richter, who lives in Kingston, said she’s interested in the aesthetics of the bridges, protecting nearby recreation, and improving safety.

“If you've ever traveled over these bridges all of your life, as I have, you want things to be better,” she said. “You don't want to go through a process and then it doesn't improve.”

But she said she’s excited to see what can be accomplished with public involvement and funding that doesn’t have to come during the Great Depression.

“What we're looking at here is a grand scale of work, but it's also replacing a grand scale of work,” she said. “These bridges were installed at a time when no one thought anybody could install these bridges. We were in the depths of the Depression. So to see what we can do today … I'm fascinated by it.”

Visitors to the open house at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Bourne also watched time-lapse video of what it should actually look like when the bridge arches are lifted into place — courtesy of a very similar bridge, installed the same way, on Lake Champlain.

Because a crane would be difficult to use in the currents of the Cape Cod Canal, the installers will use a jack system with vertical cables, said Ted Zoli, national chief bridge engineer for design firm HNTB.

“We actually designed the approach structures to serve as the crane,” he said. “And so, you can see these strand jacks at the four corners. That allows the bridge to be picked up. And it's supported by the same structural system that supports the final bridge.”

The $4 billion project to replace the bridgeshas yet to receive full federal funding.

Gov. Maura Healey pledged yesterday to double the state's financial commitment to the bridge project, raising it to $700 million. The money will come from previously authorized borrowing capacity.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.