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Cape bridges replacement singled out for funding in appropriations bill

 Bourne Bridge
S Junker

The US Senate committee on appropriations has included $350 million in a bill to go toward the replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges.

The bipartisan bill was published last night. It is only a recommendation and must win passage by both the full Senate and the House and be signed by the President before October 1 to become law.

“Think of it kind of like hitting a grand slam in the second inning,” U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
told CAI. “It's really good news. But there's still a whole lot of work to be done.”

Asked how confident she is that the bill will pass, Warren hesitated.

“It's hard,” she said. “It's hard because the Republicans are in control of the House and they're trying — some of them — to slash everything, including infrastructure spending. So that's why I said this is the second inning, not the ninth inning in the game.”

You can find the full bill here.The line item for the Cape Cod bridges appears on page 21.

The current bridges are approaching 90 years old and have been deemed in need of replacement. About 38 million car trips will cross the bridges this year.

A step forward for a long-awaited project

The $350 million dollars, if included in the federal budget, would represent the largest sum yet dedicated to the project.

“That amount can also be used now to cover what's called state matching funds, and let us compete more effectively for even larger sums of money in the competition for infrastructure money,” Warren said. “The bottom line is, this is money we can then leverage to get even more federal money into this project.”

Full replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges is estimated to cost as much as $4 billion. The federal government has been working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on planning for the new bridges, identifying preferred locations and designs.

Grant applications for funding the replacement project have already been turned down twice, which has, at times, worried local bridge advocates.

The majority of the funds are expected to come from the federal government, which owns the bridges through the Army Corps of Engineers, but the state recently included $262 million toward replacing the bridges in their Fiscal Year 2024-2028 Capital Investment Plan, with the goal of ramping up to Governor Maura Healey’s $700 million total long-term commitment.

“This is very exciting and welcome news on a project that has been a top priority for our administration,” Healey said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Biden, Senator Warren and Senator [Ed] Markey for their leadership in including this critical funding to move the Cape Cod Canal Bridges Project forward, invest in new infrastructure, and boost our regional economy. We will continue working closely with our local, state, and federal partners to see this project through.”

The senate’s overall appropriations bill calls for $58 billion in project funding nationwide. It passed out of the committee on a bipartisan unanimous vote of 29-to-0.

Steve is Managing Editor of News. He came to WCAI in 2007. He also hosts the weekly News Roundup on Friday mornings and produces The Fishing News.
Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.