A plan to replace two aging bridges that carry traffic onto and off Cape Cod was dealt another setback this week as the federal government rejected a significant grant application that sought to fund nearly half of the $4 billion project, officials said.
The state Department of Transportation announced late Wednesday that the US Army Corps of Engineers’ application for $1.882 billion to replace the Bourne and Sagamore bridges was denied by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration in its first round of funding for bridge investment projects.
The rejection comes after the Army Corps of Engineers, which built, operates, and maintains both bridges, saw part of its application for $1 billion through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program fail in September.
The Army Corps of Engineers did not respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday evening.
In a statement, Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard said the Baker administration “is disappointed that this latest funding application has been denied,” and added that the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government are responsible for the bridges.
“MassDOT will continue to pursue every possible avenue to support the USACE’s efforts to secure federal discretionary funds to replace the bridges,” Goddard said in the statement.
Federal lawmakers also expressed disappointment that the Cape funding was not included in the most recent round of discretional funding.
In a joint statement, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and Representative Bill Keating expressed disappointment in the decision to deny the Army Corps’ application but said the Biden administration granted the state a $1.6 million planning grant for the project, “signaling their strong commitment to this infrastructure project.”
“It is frustrating, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps were unsuccessful as part of this round of funding in their bid for a federal grant to replace the Cape Cod Bridges,” the statement said. “Congress has appropriated unprecedented infrastructure money for bridges around the country, and we remain confident that the Army Corps and MassDOT can learn lessons from this grant cycle to submit a more competitive application in the next round of federal funding. Cape residents deserve safe, secure public infrastructure and we’ll continue to work with federal, state, and local partners until it’s delivered.”
The money sought by the Army Corps of Engineers in this latest round instead went to major bridge projects in four other states, as the Biden administration announced $2.1 billion for projects in Connecticut, Kentucky, Illinois, and California, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Bridge Investment Program.
Connecticut received $158 million to repair the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, part of the Interstate-95 corridor over the Thames River between New London and Groton.
A new round of funding will open later this year, officials said.
The Bourne and Sagamore bridges, both opened in 1935 with the intention of lasting just 50 years, serve as the only roadway connection on and off Cape Cod for 263,000 residents of the Cape and Islands and 5 million annual visitors to the region, according to MassDOT.
In 2019, the Army Corps determined that both bridges had become “functionally obsolete” and should be replaced rather than repaired.