State and federal officials have signed a memorandum of understanding to give Massachusetts, instead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lead role in designing and building the new Bourne and Sagamore bridges.
The MOU says the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will complete a feasibility study and alternatives analysis for the $1 billion project and construct the bridges.
The federal government will fund the work, and the Army Corps will transfer ownership of the new bridges to MassDOT once they are complete.
In a ceremony held by video conference Tuesday, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack signed the agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“They are exquisitely wonderful engineers when it comes to water infrastructure, but their specialty is not bridges, so this MOU really represents a partnership between the Army Corps and MassDOT and the commonwealth to ensure that these critically important bridges — the only connections between mainland Massachusetts and the Cape, which have served us so well — are replaced in the manner in which they should be,” she said.
Col. William Conde, commander of the New England District, signed on behalf of the Army Corps.
Once the bridges are complete, the Corps will transfer ownership to the state.
Governor Charlie Baker said the state has already made financial plans for the connections on either side of the canal, and he welcomed the agreement.
“It puts us in a great place to move forward on something that I know is a critical issue, not just to the Cape, but to Southeastern Massachusetts,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined the video conference to offer her support.
“Everyone understands that these bridges are vital lifelines to supporting the regional economy and ensuring public safety,” she said.
The bridges serve as an evacuation route for the Cape and Islands.
Last fall, the Army Corps recommended the new bridges be at least 120 feet wide, with an extra lane in each direction, a median, shoulders, and a separate lane for bicycles and pedestrians. The existing bridges, completed in 1935, are 48 feet wide.
As WCAI reported, MassDOT determined that if the bridges were built according to Army Corps recommendations, peak traffic crossing onto Cape Cod could increase by 25 percent.