$350 million in Cape Cod bridges funding at stake as federal budget comes down to the wire
Federal funding of $350 million toward replacing the Cape Cod bridges hangs in the balance as Congress tries to finalize a budget for the fiscal year that began more than four months ago.
The money for the new Bourne and Sagamore bridges is in the Senate appropriations bill, but not the House bill. Democrats control the Senate, and Republicans the House.
Speaking exclusively to CAI, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she and Sen. Ed Markey sent a letter to the leaders of a Senate subcommittee handling the bridge funding, urging them to ensure the full amount makes it into the final bill.
“Both Senator Markey and I have gone to the chairs of this committee to say, ‘Of all the things that are under the jurisdiction of this committee, getting the Cape Cod bridges funded is our highest priority,’” she said in an interview.
The Feb. 6 letter went to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.
Intensive negotiations are happening ahead of the next deadline to avert a partial government shutdown March 1.
The amount in the Senate bill matches the $350 million President Biden included in his budget request.
“We hope the House will sign off on it, and we get that next chunk of money from the federal government to build those bridges,” Warren said.
Until the budget is done, the funding remains uncertain.
“So long as we stay in temporary funding — they're called continuing resolutions around here — then there's no new money for things like the bridges,” she said.
In addition, Massachusetts is waiting to learn whether the bridges, estimated to cost a combined $4.5 billion, will receive a Federal Highway Administration grant of more than $1 billion.
If the state receives both the budget money and the grant, those added to previous funding will nearly match the $2.14 billion estimate for the Sagamore Bridge, which the state plans to build first.
Already-secured funding includes $372 million in federal grants and $262 million in Gov. Maura Healey’s Capital Investment Plan. The five-year capital plan is updated every year, and Healey has pledged $700 million for the bridges over the long term.
Warren and Markey, in their letter to the Senate subcommittee, said Cape Cod relies on the bridges to support the region’s economy and quality of life.
“At more than 90 years old, both bridges are functionally obsolete due to structural deficiencies that present an ongoing risk to the accessibility and economic stability of the Cape Cod region,” they wrote. “For that reason, the replacement of the Cape Cod Bridges is key to modernizing Massachusetts’ physical infrastructure to meet the economic, social, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.”