Future of Bourne, Sagamore Bridges in Focus at Cape Cod Hearings

Tim Dunn/CapeCod.com

BOURNE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers kicked off a series of five public information meetings scheduled this month across Cape Cod to discuss the future of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges.

The first meeting was held at Bourne High School Tuesday night, where representatives from the Corps and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) led an overview of the study to the public.

The Corps’ New England District is conducting a multiyear Major Rehabilitation Evaluation study of the bridges to determine whether a major rehabilitation project or even the possibility of replacing the bridges will provide the most reliable, fiscally responsible solution for the future.

“Right now we’re in the initial stages of the environmental portion. A lot of the study is completed and we’re looking forward to having a draft MRER and the draft Environmental Assessment by the summer of 2019 and the final possibly completed in the winter of 2019,” explained Tim Dugan of the Corps’ Public Affairs Office.

“The final will have a recommendation, which will have to get approved by the decision makers. I don’t know how long that would take, but for something concrete to happen it would take several years.”

The existing bridges were constructed 83 years ago and require increasingly more frequent maintenance. The Corps says the maintenance is not only costly, but causes significant impact to traffic crossing the Cape Cod Canal.

The study will result in a Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER0, evaluating the risk and reliability of the structures as well as the economic impacts and benefits of a number of alternatives, including the continuation of routine maintenance, a major rehabilitation, and a bridge replacement.

“Right now we’re looking at either replacing the bridges or doing major rehabs. We’re going to continue to repair the bridges as needed,” said Dugan.

The MRER calls for a structural engineering analysis of the bridges, cost estimates for a rehabilitation or replacement of the bridges, an analysis of the economic benefits of the listed options, and a study of the environmental effects of the listed options.

“As far as new bridges, there are two alternatives. One is to replace them as they are with two lanes in each direction. Another one is two lanes in each direction with two extra lanes, one for acceleration and one for deceleration lanes,” Dugan explained.

“If they were new bridges they would be modern design with 12-foot wide lanes. The lanes are very narrow. They’re like 10-feet wide and very narrow because they were built a long time ago. But there would be a media, there would be a breakdown lane, there would be a walking path and bike path situation.”

The Corps is seeking public input and will coordinate with the appropriate state and Federal agencies and federally recognized Tribes to fully evaluate the alternatives, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The Corps will provide an overview of the MRER study during the public meetings. Those in attendance and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide comments related to the study. A project website and email address to submit comments will be provided.

Registration begins at 6:00 p.m. An open house will be held from 6:00 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. with informational posters and Corps staff on hand to answer questions about the MRER. A project overview presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the opportunity for public comment concluding with all comments provided, or building closure, whichever comes first.

The Corps will hold five public information meetings throughout the month of December near and on the Cape.

The remaining public information meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, December 5 in Plymouth; Thursday, December 6 in Nantucket; Tuesday, December 11 in Martha’s Vineyard; and Wednesday, December 12 in Hyannis.

The meeting in Plymouth will be held at Plymouth South High School in the Performing Arts Center, located at 490 Long Pond Road in Plymouth, Mass.

The Nantucket meeting will be held inside of the Nantucket High School auditorium, at 10 Surfside Road.

For Martha’s Vineyard, the meeting will be held at the Martha’s High School Performing Arts Center, located at 100 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs.

The final meeting in Barnstable is at the Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center, at 744 West Main Street in Hyannis.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

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