The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking the public for feedback after announcing its recommendations to replace the aging Bourne and Sagamore bridges.
The Corps considered repairing the existing bridges indefinitely, but ultimately recommended replacing each bridge with structures that feature four travel lanes, two auxiliary lanes, and a space for bikes and pedestrians.
“The real reason for the replacement of the bridges-- and our recommendation for that replacement--is the fact that the bridges are 84 years old,” said Scott Acone, Deputy District Engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “As they age, they need more and more maintenance, which decreases the reliability of us to maintain those lanes for traffic.”
The Corps hopes construction on new bridges -- which would cost an estimated $1 billion-- would begin in 2025, according to Acone.
At a public meeting in Eastham Tuesday night, more than 50 people gathered with mixed feelings about replacing the bridges.
Jim Russo, director of the Eastham Chamber of Commerce, said he supports the full replacement project, because the Cape is dependent on the two bridges.
“Every time the bridges go under repairs, it really stops so much of the commerce that we rely on down here,” Russo said. “We have only a short window to make that money… especially out here on the Outer Cape.”
Still, others expressed concerns about ongoing traffic and that in demolishing the old bridges the Cape would be losing a piece of its history.
Stephen Buckley, of Chatham, said he’s worried there could be a substantial increase in traffic if the new bridges have additional lanes, as the Army Corps recommends.
“The idea being that perhaps as much as 50% more people can go over those bridges during peak summer season and not end up some place is disingenuous,” he said.
The final public meeting will take place Wednesday night at Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center, though the Corps will accept comments online through Nov. 1.