Coalition Calls for Public Support of New Cape Cod Canal Bridges

Lane restrictions in place Thursday afternoon on the Sagamore Bridge

CENTERVILLE – A coalition of chambers of commerce and community organizations have launched an effort to support a Mass DOT transportation plan that calls for the construction of new bridges over the Cape Cod Canal.

The initiative is being launched as joint replacement work begins on the Sagamore Bridge that will require one lane in each direction to be closed through the end of May.

It seeks support for “The Fix,” which is the so-called Mass DOT Model Case 3A that would create a long-term fix to the region’s antiquated roadway and intersection designs.

The Fix Coalition supports the MassDOT plan as a viable alternative which will reduce travel times while maintaining the region’s character and environmental protection.

Along with significant intersection improvements on both sides of the Canal, new bridges to replace
existing 83 year old structures have been identified as the best way to improve economic and quality of
life standards for Cape Cod.

“It’s intersection improvements on both sides of the canal and then two replacement bridges that would go right next to our existing bridges,” said Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross.

The coalition is led by the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, the Cape’s 15 local chambers, the Cape and Islands state representatives and senators, and members of the SmarterCape Partnership.

Click here to sign the petition supporting the effort

In the first two days of lane restrictions, afternoon traffic heading off Cape has been backed up five miles at times, with some commuters saying it’s taking nearly two hours to get over the bridge.

Similar work for an even longer period of time is scheduled for the Bourne Bridge in the fall.

“There’s a great swelling of sentiment and support for a permanent solution to our chronic maintenance cycles on the bridges which causes lane drops, which causes huge traffic delays for a lot of people who live here and even more inconvenience for people who work here,” said Northcross.

As part of a petition effort, the Fix It coalition iscalling on Governor Charlie Baker, state, and federal officials to support and fund a permanent fix for the Cape Cod Canal area transportation system.

“The 83+-year-old Sagamore and Bourne Bridges are too old, too narrow, rated either ‘structurally deficient’ or ‘functionally obsolete’ and qualify for replacement under federal guidelines. They have no modern safety features such as lane separation, shoulders, and pedestrian or bicycle separations,” read the petition.

The coalition said the chronic maintenance cycles requiring lane drops are causing an estimated $30 million a year in lost time, and are hurting residents and businesses through missed appointments, aggravation, and pollution from auto emissions.

“We’re really reducing our availability, our accessibility to the world for a big part of the year,” said Northcross.

The final report of the MassDOT-led Cape Cod Canal Area Transportation Study is complete and pending release.

It addresses improvements to all of the connecting roadways and chokepoints that create and enhance congestion.

The group said that recent comments by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials that any new bridge replacement would be ten years away is unacceptable.

“The time for talk and study is over. Deliberate action is needed now,” the petition states.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director

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