The Cape Cod Bridges Program Details

MassDOT Highway Division will be addressing the aging Sagamore and Bourne bridges as well as making improvements to the approaching roadway networks within the Cape Cod Canal area. Learn how you can get involved and make your voice heard.

Table of Contents

A new gateway for the Cape

MassDOT Highway Division has started one of the most important transportation programs in the region: addressing the aging Sagamore and Bourne bridges and making improvements to the surrounding roadway networks. There are still many important factors under consideration, such as defining the Program's Purpose & Need and the development of bridge and roadway alternatives. The Cape Cod Bridges Program Team needs to understand your interests and concerns, especially as we make plans to address the impact of design and construction on commuters, travelers, and neighboring communities. Your involvement is crucial to the success of the Program – and the future of the Cape.

Surrounding bridge roadway network

 

Where you can make your voice heard

Below is a list of upcoming steps that we'll be asking for the public to comment on. Your voice can help us give shape to these aspects of the program.

Provide feedback on When Why it matters 

Purpose & need statement

Now

This statement will provide a comprehensive understanding of why the Program is needed and what it hopes to accomplish. It also plays a significant role in the development of alternatives and the environmental documentation process. We are asking the public to weigh in on any aspects that they feel the Program should encompass. The Purpose & Need statement defines the scope of the Program. Therefore, it is important that you provide your feedback early in the process.

Measures of effectiveness

Now

Measures of Effectiveness (MOEs) will be used to guide the development and evaluation of alternatives, or design options. These measures are criteria that will be used to compare alternatives. For example: what will the impact be on wetlands, noise, multimodal access, etc.? The measures will help to narrow down potential design options, which will be evaluated based on how they respond to this determined set of criteria.

Design options

TBD Preliminary design alternatives will be presented and the public will have ample opportunity to comment on alternatives and impacts.

Preferred design

TBD The selection of a preferred alternative will not occur without extensive outreach to the surrounding communities and traveling public, as well as a full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

 

Where we are in the process

Program schedule*: 

  • October 2019: MassDOT finalized and published the Cape Cod Canal Transportation Study, recommending that improvements be made to multimodal connectivity and reliability across the Canal.
  • March 2020: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) finalized and published their Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER) and Environmental Assessment (EA) on the current state of repair and the transportation needs of the region.
  • April 2020: The USACE and Assistant Secretary of the Amy for Civil Works officially announced their recommendation to replace the current Sagamore and Bourne bridges.
    • Please note, MassDOT will be evaluating this recommendation in our own public process.
  • July 2020: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed between MassDOT and the USACE (see Program background).
  • June 2021: Public process commences with two public information meetings.  
  • Phase 1: 
    • Data collection - including environmental conditions and traffic patterns.
    • Public outreach and involvement efforts are underway.
  • Phase 2: Based on public input, MassDOT develops and refines bridge and roadway options. 
  • Phase 3: MassDOT identifies preferred options. Environmental documentation process begins. Design development.
  • Phase 4: MassDOT completes preliminary design and environmental permitting. 
  • Phase 5: Construction underway.
  • Delivery: The Cape Cod Bridges Program is completed.

*There are many factors that will influence schedule, including but not limited to: identification of construction funding, determination of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Class of Action, public feedback, packaging of construction contracts and construction procurement methodology, and more. These timeframes are estimates and are subject to change, but are included here to outline the potential lifetime of the Program. 

Man conducting geophysical investigations
MassDOT is currently working on ongoing data collection efforts, such as the geophysical investigations seen here.
Wetland delineation
Other past data collection efforts include wetland delineation, as shown here.

Your opinion matters

MassDOT is in the preliminary stages of program development, including data collection and public involvement and feedback. Your involvement is crucial to the success of this program. Below are some ways to get involved in the process.

Get started

Stay informed and actively involved by receiving program email updates and submitting comments to the MassDOT program team at the two links below.

Sign up for program updates

Submit a comment

Join a public meeting

Public meetings will be held throughout the program development process. Upcoming public meeting information will be posted to this site as they are scheduled, so check back here for the latest updates.

  • What to expect in a public meeting: These meetings will discuss the progress of the Program and will provide a way for the public to provide feedback. All meetings will provide opportunities for comments and questions.
  • Sign up for Program updates: All public meetings will be announced at least two weeks in advance – on this website page, newspaper advertisements, and with social media posts, flyers, and email blasts to the Program subscription list.

Additional rounds of outreach will be scheduled as the program advances to seek public input of the development of design alternatives and the selection of a preferred alternative. Please note that the selection of a preferred alternative will not be made without extensive outreach to the surrounding communities and traveling public.

Past public outreach topics and meeting materials

Round 2 outreach: Fall 2021

Access and respond to the polling questions asked at the Public Information Meetings held on 11/16/21 and 11/18/21.

Round 1 outreach: Summer 2021

Past events

  • State Legislative Briefing (March 26, 2021)
  • Town of Bourne Briefing (April 8, 2021)
  • ACEC Meeting (May 7, 2021)
  • Federal Delegation Briefing (May 10, 2021)
  • Military-Civilian Community Council (MC3) Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC) (May 12, 2021)
  • Cape Cod Commission Briefing (June 21, 2021)
  • State and Federal Legislative Briefing (November 1, 2021)
  • Town of Bourne Briefing (November 3, 2021)

Program background

History of the canal and bridges

When the Sagamore and Bourne bridges were built in 1933, they changed the relationship between the Cape and the rest of Massachusetts. They allowed for cars to travel, enabling Cape residents to access jobs on the mainland while simultaneously launching a new tourism industry. In many ways, the bridges are responsible for shaping the Cape that we know today. Visit the US Army Corps of Engineers New England District Website to read more about the Cape Cod Canal History.

Moving forward, the bridges must respond to today's needs and expectations, which includes being brought up to modern/standard code, improving travel operations, and accommodating alternate modes of travel, such as biking and walking.

Historic photo of the Bourne Bridge construction
Original construction of the Bourne Bridge in the 1930s
Original Sagamore bridge construction
Original construction of the Sagamore bridge in the 1930s
Historic photo of people walking on bridge
Historic photo of Bourne bridge

The Bourne and the Sagamore bridges are vital to the economy of Cape Cod and the surrounding communities. Today, these bridges are nearly 90 years old, functionally obsolete, and no longer meet the needs of the traveling public, which prompted the following studies leading to the development of this Program.

Previous studies

This Program is a continuation of previous studies conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to evaluate the current condition and recommend improvements to the Cape Cod Canal bridges and approach roadway networks.

MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning (OTP) Cape Cod Canal Transportation Study

MassDOT's Cape Cod Canal Transportation Study, completed in October 2019, was launched to identify existing and future multimodal transportation deficiencies and needs around the Cape Cod Canal area. This conceptual planning study's findings provide recommendations for improving multimodal connectivity and reliability across the Canal.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's Major Rehabilitation Evaluation (MRE) Study

The purpose of the study was to determine whether major rehabilitation or replacement of the Bourne and/or Sagamore Highway Bridges would provide the most reliable, fiscally responsible solution for the future. The Study culminated in the Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER) which was published in March 2020.

USACE decision

On April 3, 2020, an official decision was made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works to replace the current Sagamore and Bourne bridges with two new bridges built to modern day standards.

Please note, MassDOT will be evaluating this recommendation in our own public process.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between MassDOT and the USACE

On July 7, 2020 an MOU was reached between MassDOT and the USACE regarding the Sagamore and Bourne bridges. The below bullets outline the commitments of the MOU in the event that the bridges are replaced.

USACE will:

  • Own, operate and maintain the existing bridges until Program completion
  • Share information, provide technical support and facilitate transfer of ownership of the bridges to MassDOT

MassDOT will:

  • Lead program delivery to complete the feasibility study and alternatives analysis, preliminary design and environmental permitting process, and conduct bridge construction.
  • Own, operate, and maintain the completed bridges and approaches.
Feedback