About the Cape Cod bridges program

An overview of the Cape Cod Bridges Program, the importance of the program and its key components.

Table of Contents


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are jointly proposing to replace the Sagamore Bridge and the Bourne Bridge under the Cape Cod Bridges Program in the Town of Bourne Massachusetts.

These bridges are currently owned, operated, and maintained by the USACE. They are structurally deficient, functionally obsolete, and nearing the end of their usable life. This Program builds upon numerous studies and extensive analysis which has determined that the best option to ensure continued safe, efficient, and reliable travel over the canal is to replace both bridges.

Following the completion of the Program and the replacement of both the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, MassDOT will own, maintain, and operate the completed bridges and the approach roadways.

More details are available on the program background page

Proposed work

The Cape Cod Bridges Program proposes to replace both the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, improve the Cape Cod Canal area roadway networks, and address multimodal deficiencies.

Each existing bridge will be replaced with twin-bridge structures, separating traffic in each direction to its own bridge. This will not only increase safety and improve traffic operations once the Program is complete but will also reduce construction impacts to the traveling public and the navigational channel. It will allow construction to be conducted in stages, so that two lanes of travel in each direction can be maintained, without long-term lane closures during construction.

The Program is currently moving forward with designing twin arch type bridges at both crossings. This design is based upon community engagement and the results of a public survey, as well as rigorous design and engineering studies and considerations. For example, the twin arch type would have the lowest cost and shortest construction duration.

More details are available on the proposed work page.

Historical overview

When the Sagamore and Bourne bridges were constructed starting in 1933, they changed the relationship between Cape Cod and the rest of Massachusetts and improved the viability of the Cape Cod Canal.

After the opening of the Cape Cod Canal in 1914, with two original electrically operated, cantilever highway bridges, and a single railroad bridge, it quickly became clear that these designs could not accommodate the significant volumes of vessel transits through the canal. The solution was to reconstruct these bridges, at new elevated locations, with high 135’ vertical clearances, resulting in the current Sagamore and Bourne bridges being completed in 1935. 

These structures have provided essential links between Cape Cod and the mainland, and immediately enhanced connectivity and accessibility to this important region. During the Great Depression, the construction of the bridges also provided an economic stimulus, with approximately 700 jobs at a critical time for local communities. Today, these bridges stand not only as vital transportation links but also as enduring testaments to the resilience and community spirit that went into their creation.

More details are available on the Cape Cod Bridges history page

The Gateway for the Cape and economic impact

The Cape Cod bridges serve as critical links that allow residents, tourists, and goods to access Cape Cod, and are imperative connections to the surrounding communities and the Commonwealth. Cape Cod and the Islands are home to 263,000 permanent residents and are consistently popular tourist destinations with five million annual visitors. The economic vitality of Cape Cod and the quality of life for people who live, work, and visit these communities is dependent on these bridges. Without these bridges, accessing Cape Cod would be more challenging, limiting the opportunities for people to explore its beautiful landscapes, enjoy its beaches, and experience the unique charm that the region has to offer. Additionally, the Canal is important to mariners, as it saves approximately 135 miles of travel compared to circumnavigating Cape Cod. In essence, the Cape Cod bridges are essential lifelines that enhance accessibility and connectivity to this iconic destination.

MassDOT is committed to carrying out this program and ensuring that people throughout the region can continue to reach their destination safely and reliably.

Safety and mobility enhancements

The Program will improve mobility and safety for everyone traveling over the canal as well as throughout the surrounding region. Currently, the roadways of both bridges consist of two lanes in each direction with a sidewalk on one side. Traffic delays are prevalent during the summer with frequent traffic backups. Higher than regional or state average crash rates and congestion can be attributed directly to the designs of the bridges.

The proposed twin bridge replacement will separate traffic in each direction to its own bridge, reducing the likelihood of numerous types of crashes, such as head on collisions and sideswipe crashes in the opposite direction. In addition, the bridges will have wider lanes, left and right shoulders, updated signs and pavement markings, and an auxiliary lane to accommodate vehicles entering and exiting onto the local roadways to the north and south of the canal. These entrance/exit lanes will only extend for the length of the bridges and will allow for easier merging and more time for drivers to change lanes.

Multimodal travel

There are currently gaps and unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists who wish to travel across the bridges and between the Cape Cod Canal service road and local roadways. The existing Bourne and Sagamore bridges each have a single, narrow sidewalk with steep inclines and no accommodation for cyclists. The lack of shoulders also creates unsafe conditions as there is no separation between pedestrians and vehicles.

Many roads in the vicinity of the bridges are narrow and lack sidewalks, presenting difficulties for pedestrians, particularly older adults, and individuals with disabilities. Access to nearby bus stops is challenging, and numerous locations lack an accessible, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant connection.

This Program will create safe routes for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the canal, provide scenic overlooks on the bridges, complete a new loop trail between the bridges, and improve connections to local roadways, businesses, residences, and other multimodal trails. Each crossing will have a barrier separated shared use path as well as connections to the Cape Cod Canal service roads. Along the local roadways, accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists will be introduced or improved to meet the goals of MassDOT's Healthy Transportation Policy Directive.

State of good repair

Although they are safe for travel, the nearly 90-year-old bridges are considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. Costs for operations, maintenance, and repair of the bridges also continue to increase as the structures age.

This Program will replace both bridges, leading to substantial improvements for the millions of people who travel over the canal each year. The new structures will be designed and built to simplify inspection, maintenance, and resiliency, helping to produce transformative benefits toward maintaining a state of good repair.

Public involvement

The Cape Cod Bridges Program Team continues to engage the public, stakeholders, and communities throughout the area in an inclusive and equitable manner. It is critically important that we understand local and regional interests and concerns as we move forward with the design and permitting, and work to minimize impacts on the community.

Public engagement is key to our success. Learn more about public involvement efforts.

Two views of the Cape Bridges. One from above and one from below.

Contact   for About the Cape Cod bridges program


We encourage you to contact us with any questions, comments, or input regarding the Program Submit your online comment 


Submit all written comments Attention: Project Management, Project File No. 608020
Carrie E. Lavallee, P.E., Chief Engineer, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

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