White House advisor: 'Intense cooperation' on Cape bridges is a strength in federal grant process
A senior advisor to President Joe Biden visited Cape Cod Friday to hear from local leaders about what they say is a critical need to replace the Bourne and Sagamore bridges.
The advisor, Mitch Landrieu, sat down for a closed-door meeting with community leaders after speaking publicly alongside members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.
Landrieu is coordinating the rollout of the 2021 federal infrastructure law, which commits $110 billion in federal funding to roads, bridges, and other major projects.
He said he can’t comment on whether the $4.5 billion bridge project is likely to receive federal grants this year, but a well-planned project, with broad cooperation among political leaders, has a better chance of winning federal grants. And that’s what he sees on Cape Cod.
“I am really happy with the level of — let me call it intense cooperation … and elegant, persuasive conversation that we’ve had,” he said.
The bridge project, led by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — the latter of which owns the bridges — is seeking most of its funding from the federal government.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren hosted the meeting at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
She said the bridges are a problem that affects everyone on the Cape.
“The Cape Cod bridges are in terrible condition,” she said. “They’re getting worse every day, and they must be replaced.”
Sen. Ed Markey attended in person, and Congressman Bill Keating joined by video from Washington, where he was voting for speaker of the House.
Earlier in the day, Warren and Markey took Landrieu to see the bridge traffic up close.
The state and the Army Corps have applied for three different federal grants for the Sagamore Bridge, totaling more than $2 billion.
In an interview after the meeting, Landrieu said he knows it will take several grants to get the project off the ground.
“On the federal side, sometimes you’re actually patching money together from different departments,” he said. “And so you keep applying, and you keep stacking the money, and you hope you get to the number you need that gives you confidence that you can move the project forward.”
The Healey administration has proposed building the Sagamore first. Previous attempts to secure funding for both bridges simultaneously were not successful.