Feds Again Reject Cape Bridge Replacement Funds
The federal government has denied an application for $1.88 billion to replace the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. State transportation officials announced the denial late Wednesday, saying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) grant application requesting Federal Highway Administration funds under the first round of the Bridge Investment Program Grants was denied.
In September, state officials reported that another Army Corps of Engineers application for bridge replacement funds had failed. That application sought a grant under the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, or INFRA, program. The latest application was filed in August for funding through the new federal infrastructure law, and the funds sought represent 47 percent of the estimated $3.98 billion total project cost.
The Army Corps of Engineers built, operates and maintains the two bridges. A 2020 agreement calls for the Corps to retain ownership and management of the bridges while they are demolished and replaced, then transfer ownership and operation of the planned new bridges to Massachusetts. Massachusetts officials said the federal government awarded $2.1 billion in Bridge Investment Program grants for four projects, including $158 million for Connecticut to rehabilitate an I-95 corridor bridge between New London and Groton.
Federal transportation officials on Wednesday did award a much smaller grant – $1.6 million – to the Army Corps “to advance critical planning work in support of replacement” of the two bridges, saying the project would “improve the flow of roadway traffic between Cape Cod and mainland Massachusetts” and describing the Bourne and Sagamore as “currently in poor and fair condition, at risk of falling into poor condition.” “The Cape Cod Bridges are federal assets, and the responsibility to replace them lies with the USACE and the federal government.
The Baker-Polito Administration is disappointed that this latest funding application has been denied,” said MassDOT spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard. “Despite these bridges being federal assets, the Administration has spent considerable time, energy and funds to support replacing the bridges, including working with the Legislature to pass significant funding to replace the approaches to the bridges and authorization for Massachusetts to compete for federal grants.
MassDOT will continue to pursue every possible avenue to support the USACE’s efforts to secure federal discretionary funds to replace the bridges.” State lawmakers allocated $350 million in a 2021 transportation bond bill to support delivery of the new Cape Cod Bridges, and last year passed another bond bill in a bid to match federal discretionary grant awards. – Michael P. Norton/SHNS