The latest attempt to secure federal funding to replace the Cape Cod Canal bridges has failed — but officials, although disappointed, aren’t giving up.
MassDOT and the Army Corps of Engineers applied last year for $1.8 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's competitive bridge replacement program, which had more than $2 billion in federal funding available. But applications were open to all 50 states, and four other projects around the country won out.
Even though Massachusetts was denied the large grant it sought, the state was awarded a smaller sum to support planning.
“We’re encouraged that the Biden administration has awarded Massachusetts a $1.6 million planning grant, signaling their strong commitment to this infrastructure project,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey and Rep. William Keating said in a statement. “It is frustrating the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps were unsuccessful as part of this round of funding in their bid for a federal grant to replace the Cape Cod bridges. … We remain confident that the Army Corps and MassDOT can learn lessons from this grant cycle to submit a more competitive application in the next round of federal funding.”
This is the second time the state has lost out on federal funding to replace the 90-year-old Bourne and Sagamore bridges. An initial grant request was denied last year, but officials were hoping they would be more successful in this round of grant awards.
MassDOT spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard said the denial was especially disappointing because the state has already made significant investments in the structures.
“Despite these bridges being federal assets, the [Baker] 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,” she said.
The two bridges are owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the Cape Cod Canal. According to a memorandum of understanding signed by the U.S. Army Corps and state officials in 2020, ownership of the bridges would be transferred to the state once they are replaced.
The bridges provide the only roadway connection on and off Cape Cod for the 263,000 residents of the Cape and Islands, as well as 5 million annual visitors.