The recent construction on the Sagamore Bridge tied up traffic for miles. It was a vivid reminder that both Cape bridges are getting old. They opened 83 years ago.
Ted Donohoe has been fishing in the Cape Cod Canal, in the shadow of the Sagamore Bridge, his whole life. While it’s peaceful at the water’s edge, it’s what’s going on up above that concerns him.
“I truly believe we need to do something about it," Donohoe said.
Donohoe has seen the volume of traffic soar and believes both the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges are hopelessly out of date.
“They’re not modern, and people are commuting onto the Cape," Donohoe said. "It has just become such a difficult situation for all of us.”
Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said her group is concerned about the long-range plan for the bridges.
“We have infrastructure that was built to accommodate Model T's and Model A's when highway speed was 35 MPH," Northcross said. "Yet today, we have trucks and SUVs competing for space in very narrow lanes.”
State transportation officials have been studying options to get traffic on and off the Cape and have come up with seven options.
Northcross said the business community is behind the plan known as “3-A”. This includes completely replacing the two current bridges and improving some intersections, like the Bourne Rotary.
“We have two ways in and out, so this is not your normal roadway traffic work. This is our lifeline,” added Northcross.
The business community has created “The Coalition for the FIX’. So far, they’ve gathered more than 2,500 signatures supporting replacement.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor of civil engineering Hussam Saleem said there are multiple factors that come into plan when deciding to replace or just continuing maintaining a bridge.
Saleem added that it’s possible for older bridges, like those on the Cape, to be safe but functionally obsolete. That definition means they just can’t handle today’s traffic or meet current safety standards.
“That is why we have traffic jams," Saleem said. "That's why sometimes you have safety issues. We have emergencies on the bridge that stop the bridge from working because we don't have emergency shoulder lanes, for example.”
There is no cost estimate for replacing both bridges, although Northcross said it could hit a billion dollars.
Residents like Donohoe believe it’s time to make the investment.
“I’ve seen many, many accidents on the bridge, and you know, it would be safer to build bridges with maybe wider lanes, and create a safer situation for everyone," Donohoe”
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A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation told Boston 25 News their report is being finalized and there is no specific deadline for its release.
The bridges are technically run by the U.S Army Corp of Engineers so any plan will require their participation as well.
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