February 14, 2020

Senators Warren and Markey and Rep. Keating Sound Alarm Over Lack of Federal Funding for Cape Cod Canal Bridges

Massachusetts Lawmakers Call for Recommitment to Replace Bridges

Washington, D.C. – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with Congressman William Keating (D-Mass.), called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to recommit to an earlier recommendation to replace the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges. Lawmakers sent the letter after the agency announced its Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) and President Trump unveiled his budget request for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021), neither of which contained any funding to repair or replace the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
“We are greatly disturbed by this omission of funds for the Cape Cod Canal Bridges and demand answers as to how the USACE plans to finance the replacement of such vital bridges that have long outlived their usefulness,” write the Massachusetts lawmakers in their letter. “We are concerned that this decision reflects a failure to understand the urgency of the situation for the Cape & Islands. The residents of this region cannot wait multiple years for this project to begin.”
Although the USACE’s Work Plan allocated $11.9 million to ongoing operations and maintenance in the Cape Cod Canal Federal Navigation Project, the USACE failed to allocate any additional funding for commencing work on either repairing or replacing the Canal Bridges in 2020. The President’s Budget requested $12.4 million for ongoing operations and maintenance at the Canal, but similarly failed to include any funding request for a repair or replacement project in 2021.
The USACE’s New England District recently concluded in its draft “Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report” that the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges are structurally deficient and in desperate need of replacement. The New England District further determined that a full replacement of both bridges is more cost-effective than repairing and rehabilitating the existing structures. The Massachusetts lawmakers previously applauded this recommendation and called on the USACE’s national headquarters to adopt the New England District’s plan. Senators Warren and Markey, and Congressman Keating also previously urged the USACE to allocate appropriate funding in its FY 2020 Work Plan to get this project started immediately after the final plan of action is decided.
The Massachusetts delegation has supported various efforts to strengthen the Cape Cod bridges: 
  • In October 2019, as part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, Senators Warren and Markey secured language directing the Army Corps of Engineers to repair or replace critical evacuation routes, such as the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges.
  • Also in October 2019, Senators Warren and Markey, and Congressman Keating, commended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its draft “Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report” on the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges in Cape Cod.
  • In May 2019, Senators Markey and Warren, and Congressman Keating, introduced the Enhancing the Strength and Capacity of America’s Primary Evacuation Routes (ESCAPE) Act, legislation that dedicates $1 billion of federal resources to expand the capacity and improve the resilience of evacuation routes such as the Sagamore and Bourne bridges.
  • In June 2019, Congressman Keating secured $5 million in the House of Representative’s Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill for the redesign of the bridges in their role as federally designated escape routes.
  • In July of 2019, Senator Markey secured both the ESCAPE Act and a $3.265 billion nation-wide bridge investment program in the highway funding bill passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee.