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Washington Snubs MassDOT’s Proposed Cape Cod Highway Expansion

3:10 PM EST on January 5, 2023

An aerial view of a major highway interchange. In the foreground is the intersection of two multi-lane suburban roads. Behind it is a large parking lot, with a gas station and a handful of other highway-oriented businesses surrounded by asphalt. In the middle distance, a four-lane expressway runs from the right to upper left. In the upper left, the highway crosses a canal over an arched bridge. Another highway runs parallel to the canal into the distance in the photograph's upper right corner.

Route 6 and the Sagamore Bridge (upper left) in Bourne, Massachusetts. Courtesy of MassDOT.

On Thursday morning, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it would not commit any funding from its new Bridge Investment Grant program for MassDOT's "Cape Bridges Program," a $4 billion proposal to widen several highways and intersections in the vicinity of the Cape Cod Canal in Bourne.

The proposed Cape Cod Bridges Program is often described as a project to replace the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges over the Cape Cod Canal in the town of Bourne.

But the project is much more extensive than that. In addition to building new, 6-lane bridges – each of which would be nearly twice as wide as the existing 4-lane bridges – MassDOT is also proposing to add more lanes to connecting highways like Route 6, add more lanes to local streets like Sandwich Road, build a new mile-long bypass road, widen intersections, and build new highway-style interchanges on both sides of the canal:

A map of the Cape Cod Canal area in Bourne highlighting MassDOT's proposed road widening projects associated with the replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges. Lines highlighted in green that radiate out from the two bridges in both direction indicate where MassDOT plans to widen roads, build a new road (from route 6 eastward to Route 6A) and reconfigure highway interchanges.
MassDOT's proposed Cape Cod Bridges program is proposing a major suite of roadway expansion projects (highlighted in green) on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal, in addition to the replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges. Projects include a 4-mile-long widening of Route 6 between the Canal and Route 130 in Sandwich (labelled E), a new mile-long bypass highway along with new connecting highway ramps between Route 6 and Route 130 (D), and numerous road widenings and new highway ramps on both sides of the Bourne Bridge (A, B, and C). Courtesy of MassDOT.

That makes the Cape Bridges Program one of the last major highway widening projects that remains under serious consideration in the Commonwealth.

In 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the bridges themselves, and MassDOT, which controls the connecting roadways in the area, submitted several grant applications to seek $3.6 billion dollars in federal funding for the proposed project.

On Thursday, the USDOT announced that a major source of hoped-for funding – the Bridge Investment Program, which was created as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and has an annual budget of $2.1 billion – would not award any funds to the Cape Cod bridges project this year.

USDOT is instead allocating the program's funds to four projects that focus on rehabilitating existing bridges.

MassDOT and the Army Corps of Engineers still have a pending grant application under the "MEGA grant" program, another competitive grant program designed to fund large, complex projects.

However, only $5 billion is available for the entire nation under that grant program, and MassDOT is also hoping to win some of that money for its Allston Multimodal Project in Boston.

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