Cape Cod Chamber CEO Says Region Can’t Wait on Bourne Bridge Replacement

BOURNE – Local leaders applauded Gov. Maura Healey’s efforts to replace the aging Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, though they add that her proposed one-at-a-time approach may not cut it as heavy maintenance work looms for the Bourne.

As state officials have sought to acquire the roughly $4.5 billion needed to replace the two aging bridges, Healey has placed an application for federal funds totaling about $1.6 billion to replace the Sagamore Bridge, with the state matching a significant portion of the funds.

Although Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Niedzwiecki supports the replacement of the Sagamore Bridge, he stressed the need for urgency in replacing the Bourne Bridge, citing economic stress caused by recent bridge work.

“It’s a major detriment. It’s a major economic drag,” said Niedzwiecki.

“The construction on Sagamore in the spring was also very disruptive to the economy, and as those bridges approach 100 years old the maintenance on them is going to become more intense and more frequent, and so that means disrupting the economy more often. So the bridges need to be replaced.”

A 2020 report by the Army Corps of Engineers stated that the Bourne Bridge would need major rehabilitation within five years.

And with data collected by the chamber indicating 47% of jobs on the Cape are done by people who do not live on the Cape, with almost a third of the workforce crossing the bridges every day, the failure to replace the Bourne bridge in a timely manner could have devastating effects on the local economy.

“Now that’s a $100 million-plus dollar project,” said Niedzwiecki on the estimated cost of rehabilitation, “so it removes that from potential resources to replace the Bourne Bridge, and more importantly it’s a three-and-a-half year project that would require a complete closure of that bridge for six to twelve months, and that’s just not something we can survive as an economy, especially in communities like Bourne and Falmouth.”

“It would leave an economic scar that would last a generation or two,” he continued. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get funding for the Sagamore, but we can’t relax. We’ve got to replace both of these bridges, and they need to be replaced pretty close in time.”

Niedzweicki hinted that an inability to secure bridge replacement funding could lead to discussions on the future use of the canal.

“If for some reason federal funds aren’t available to replace both of the bridges, potentially there should be a discussion about the viability of the canal, or at least the types of vessels that use the canal,” he said.

“If we could build causeway bridges, lower bridges, they might be lower cost. And if the Sagamore application is unsuccessful, those kinds of discussions are really the only next step that we have.”

To listen to the full interview with Niedzwiecki, click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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