Repair or Replace Aging Cape Bridges [PHIL-OSOPHY]
In breaking news Thursday evening, the Army Corps of Engineers went on record favoring replacing the 84-year-old Bourne and Sagamore Bridges rather than spending tax money on rehabbing the structures.
I'll ask you for your thoughts and I'll give you mine in a moment, but first some of the basic facts you'll need to know to make an informed decision.
The best estimates say to replace the bridges will cost roughly $1.5 billion. It would take about the same amount of money to make them fit for future use. The current bridges have two lanes each way, separated by double yellow painted lines. The new bridges would have four travel lanes, two in each direction, plus an auxiliary lane on both sides.
There are also plans for a median, shoulders, a bike lane, a pedestrian lane, and the widening of the lanes from 10 to 12 feet. The reason additional lanes were eliminated was because it would take federal legislation for any lane expansion and the way they're fighting in Washington, it would be a cold day in hell before they agreed to that.
The existing bridges would remain open during construction of the new bridges and then be torn down after the new ones are operational. The existing bridges will still need some repairs during the construction period. The new Sagamore Bridge would be built to the west of the one that's there now, and the Bourne Bridge would be constructed to the east of the existing span. Replacing the structures would have very little disturbance to present-day traffic.
Before you sound off, a few more tidbits: underground tunnels were eliminated because of the greater cost and impact on the environment. There's going to have to be about 11 acres of a land grab and relocation of businesses. And while they're looking at all this, I hope they demolish that maddening Bourne Rotary and reconstruct the roadways with direct routes. All things considered, it would take until 2040 for everything to be completed.
You probably read my cards already – I think it's a no brainer to absolutely build two new bridges, but I'm interested in hearing from you. So is the Corps. They're having public meetings:
Wednesday, October 16 at Bourne High School
Thursday, October 17 at Plymouth South High School Performing Arts Center
Monday, October 21 at the Thomas P. O'Neill Federal Building in Boston
Tuesday, October 22 at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham
Wednesday, October 23 at Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center in Hyannis
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM in New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.