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State unveils new details of Cape Cod bridges replacement project

The new Sagamore Bridge could open in 2034 and the Bourne Bridge about a year later, if all goes according to plan.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced an updated timeline last night, with new details, at a public information session held online.

Following two years of federal review, major events in the life of the $4.5 billion project would unfold in 2026: the final permits secured in the spring, preliminary design of the Sagamore Bridge complete by summer, and a draft Request for Proposals to start the contractors’ bidding process in the fall.

But before any of that can happen, the state needs to select locations for the four interchanges where the bridges meet surrounding highways. That’s one of the major tasks of the coming months, officials said.

The state and its design consultant are still considering 10 interchange options distilled from the original 80 identified by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The 10 remaining choices are the same ones presented in public meetings a year ago.

Each option will be evaluated based on a long list of specific goals. Those include reducing travel time, minimizing conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists, and improving the socioeconomics of the surrounding community.

During last night’s meeting, members of the audience asked about the bridge design, traffic, rights of way, and configuration of local roads.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation presented new conceptual renderings of the Cape Cod bridges Thursday, April 25, 2024. Final design will take place during the design-build phase.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation presented new conceptual renderings of the Cape Cod bridges Thursday, April 25, 2024. Final design will take place during the design-build phase.

One person, identified in the Zoom meeting as Phil Goddard, asked about traffic congestion on Sandwich Road, by the Gallo Ice Arena and Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School.

“What, if any, things are you going to be doing to improve that interchange there, either with traffic lights or some sort of reconfiguration?” Goddard said. “Because that's a very short distance from the rotary … and once that gets backed up, that's the key to the whole problem at the rotary.”

The bridge construction project will not reach as far as the ice arena, but will reach Upper Cape Tech, according to Bryan Cordeiro, project manager for the Department of Transportation. He said the state is evaluating traffic control methods for that intersection.

Work for the Sagamore is expected to start sometime after the state officially greenlights the start of construction in late 2027 or early 2028. Construction would start on shore and last about six years. The central arch of the bridge would be built elsewhere, floated along the canal, and lifted into place.

Bryan Cordeiro, project manager for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Bryan Cordeiro, project manager for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

One risk of a delay in the construction of the Sagamore Bridge is the relocation of gas lines, which cross both bridges to serve customers on Cape Cod. The owners of the gas lines are responsible for that work, said Dave Anderson, project manager for HNTB, a design firm working with the state.

“The current schedule — or the latest schedule — that's been provided to MassDOT by the owners of the gas line allows the schedule you see here to move forward,” he said. “However, should the gas companies experience significant delays, that could in fact impact the schedule for the Sagamore Bridge.”

Project officials are awaiting a decision on a major federal grant from the Bridge Investment Program worth just over $1 billion. Notification should come later this spring or in early summer, Cordeiro said.

With that grant, total dedicated funds would be enough to cover the $2.1 billion estimate for the Sagamore.

A draft federal environmental report on the bridges is due out next spring. That document, the draft Environmental Impact Statement, analyzes in detail how a project would affect the environment, including human quality-of-life issues.

The public will have an opportunity to contribute comments before the draft is published.

The federal review applies to both bridges. After that, milestones for the Bourne Bridge would likely follow about a year after the comparable milestones for the Sagamore, officials said.

Last night, officials urged members of the audience who had specific questions about their situation, location, or other concerns to take the opportunity to speak with project staff one-on-one at an open house scheduled for May 13 at the Veterans' Memorial Community Center in Bourne.

The open house will have no formal presentation. Members of the community will be able to visit display stations to see images and maps of the bridge project and ask questions during two sessions, 12-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.

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.

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