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Biden signs bill for $350 million toward new Cape Cod bridges

The Bourne and Sagamore bridges have been the gateway to Cape Cod since 1935.
US Army Corps of Engineers
The Bourne and Sagamore bridges have been the gateway to Cape Cod since 1935.

Partial funding to replace the Cape Cod bridges has been signed by President Biden as part of a package of six spending bills.

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation say the money is included in funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which Biden signed Saturday. The delegation was able to preserve the full amount they were seeking for the bridges: $350 million.

That’s only a small portion of the estimated $4.5 billion cost to rebuild the Bourne and Sagamore bridges, but it’s part of a growing list of committed funds.

Marie Oliva, president and CEO of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, said the community is looking for full funding to replace the 89-year-old bridges.

“We're all going in the right direction,” she said. “And we appreciate our legislative delegation for making this happen. … We still need more money than what’s been allocated so far.”

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation calls the bridges “functionally obsolete.” Opened in 1935, they have lanes too narrow to meet current standards.

Frequent repairs create significant traffic congestion, in addition to the usual summer traffic, Oliva said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said letters she received from dozens of people in the community helped her make the case to fund the bridges.

“This is a big commitment,” she said. “This is the most expensive bridge project, that I know about, that we're asking the federal government to pick up such a big piece of the funding for.”

The bill signed on Saturday does not mention the bridges by name. But a congressional document obtained by CAI shows an itemization of funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which specifies the $350 million for the bridges.

Sen. Ed Markey said rebuilding the bridges is exactly the type of work envisioned in the bipartisan infrastructure law of 2021.

“We must seize this historic opportunity,” he said. “So we are very optimistic that we can complete this funding plan.”

Markey said the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to announce winners of major grants in the coming months.

A federal grant for the Cape Cod bridge project worth more than $1 billion is still pending. The state Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — the latter of which owns the bridges — jointly applied for the grant from the Bridge Investment Program.

The state plans to build the Sagamore Bridge first, followed by the Bourne Bridge. Winning the Bridge Investment Program grant, combined with prior federal and state funding, would nearly match the estimate of $2.14 billion for the Sagamore.

Awarding a design-build contract for the Sagamore could take about two years, State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver told CAI in December.

The state and Army Corps received word in December that the project had been awarded $372 million from other federal grant programs, the so-called “INFRA” and “Mega” programs.

INFRA is the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highway Projects program; Mega is the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program.

And Gov. Maura Healey has placed $262 million for the project in her five-year capital investment plan, which gets updated every year. Healey has pledged $700 million in long-term capital funds for the bridges.

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.