Plans to rebuild Cape Cod's Bourne and Sagamore bridges are still on, but the road to securing funds for the projects is shifting.
The state has been denied twice in its pursuit of federal grants to cover the cost of reconstructing both 90-year-old bridges at the same time. The efforts started under former Gov. Charlie Baker and have since drawn in U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and others.
Gov. Maura Healey announced this week that the state is planning to apply for $1.45 billion in federal funds to start the project. The application will prioritize the Sagamore Bridge, in a sharp detour from the original plan.
This week's announcement was “a bit of a surprise,” said Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, Paul Niedzwiecki. He said he’s grateful for the commitment by the congressional delegation and state leaders, including the governor, to get the bridges replaced, but he is worried about the future of Bourne Bridge.
“The uncertainty associated with the way that we are going to finance the Bourne Bridge is really a concern," Niedzwiecki said.
Healey, in a statement, said rebuilding both bridges is a “top priority” for her administration. The state is applying for funds along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and maintains the bridges. The $1.45 billion “will enable us to get shovels in the ground quickly on the Sagamore Bridge, lay the groundwork for rebuilding the Bourne Bridge, and move forward on the permitting and design of both bridges," Healey said.
State officials estimate the total cost of replacing both bridges is $4.5 billon. U.S. Rep. William Keating, a Democrat from Bourne, said the shift in how the state is pursuing funds is “geared to capture as much revenue [as possible] from grants that are out there.” He said he's optimistic that tackling one bridge first "will make us competitive for the grant.”
If the grant is approved, construction will start on the Sagamore Bridge by 2028. And it will be a long project: Keating estimates the rebuild will happen in phases over the course of a decade.
“In the meantime, we’ll work on the Bourne Bridge as well,” he said. "The grant money that's available, that'll be lost if we don't act now.”
The application for the funding will be submitted by Aug. 21.