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Cape Cod’s Sagamore and Bourne Bridges are part of a critical transportation system that serves as a lifeline for the Cape’s 230,000 year-round residents, 8,600 businesses, and 5 million+ annual visitors. These 88-year-old bridges are our region’s biggest transportation assets. Their urgently needed replacement is also the single biggest challenge Cape Cod faces. 

Last year, the Cape Cod Chamber surveyed our members to learn more about how the state of the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges impacts business on the Cape. We heard, loud and clear, that the bridges are vital for businesses on Cape Cod, but their poor condition and frequent maintenance are negatively affecting revenue, staffing, business growth opportunities, and other aspects of the regional economy. The Chamber shared the results of our survey with state and federal elected officials, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose office incorporated the business community’s responses into a comprehensive report, released in October. This report was used to advocate for federal and state investment in the bridges replacement effort which, at an estimated cost of $4.5 billion, will be one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects undertaken in the history of the Commonwealth. 

The Healey-Driscoll Administration has been successful in securing federal grant money to replace the Sagamore Bridge and they are optimistic that a new Sagamore will be fully funded with a combination of state and federal funds. However, state and federal officials have not yet defined a timeline or funding plan for reconstruction of the Bourne. This creates a concerning picture when we consider the scheduled maintenance needs for both bridges. The longer that funding for the Bourne Bridge remains uncertain, the more likely it is that lane or weight restrictions will be imposed or worse, that a complete closure could be required to rehabilitate the existing structure. This scenario would be catastrophic for the Cape. The recent closure of Rhode Island’s Washington Bridge and the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore underscore the urgency of the Cape Cod bridges project. Even with alternative routes, Providence and Baltimore are feeling dire community and economic impacts following the failure of their major infrastructure assets. When we imagine a similar closure of either one of the Cape Cod Canal bridges, a stark reality comes into focus: Cape Cod has no alternatives. 

A complete funding and replacement plan for both the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges is so essential to the future of our region that, beginning this month, the Chamber will convene a group of more than 35 business and community representatives to monitor the project as it moves forward. The formation of this group, named the Cape & Islands Bridges Coalition (CIBC), has been modeled after A Better City (ABC) and their work on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. The CIBC’s objective is to ensure the Cape Cod bridges are replaced in a timely and fiscally responsible way, while minimizing adverse impacts to the region and surrounding communities. 

Members of the CIBC represent a wide variety of industries, geographic locations, and perspectives. They will act as “boots on the ground,” ensuring that the needs and priorities of the Cape’s businesses and communities are represented and elevated to decision-makers at the regional, state, and federal levels. The group will follow the entire replacement process for the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges from start to finish, an estimated 10 years in total, exceeding the tenure of many elected officials. 

The Cape Cod Chamber has been a leader for over 10 years in advocating for replacement of the aging Sagamore and Bourne Bridges. The Chamber and the newly formed CIBC are committed to seeing this project through to completion. Failure is not an option. There are no alternatives.