In a boon for deep-blue Massachusetts, President Biden included long-awaited funding to replace two aging Cape Cod bridges in his $6.8 trillion budget. But as Biden confronts a Republican-dominated House of Representatives, that funding — like the rest of the spending plan — is far from guaranteed.
Biden’s budget, released Thursday, includes $350 million to replace the Bourne and Sagamore bridges, toward what the administration said was a total commitment of $600 million. The two bridges, which are nearly 90 years old, span the Cape Cod Canal, linking the Cape to mainland Massachusetts on a critical route for residents and tourists. But the bridges were intended to stand for just 50 years, and the Army Corps of Engineers recommended in 2020 that both be replaced, cautioning that rehabilitating them instead would be more costly and disruptive.
The Bourne is rated as structurally deficient, and the Sagamore as fair, although there are no imminent safety concerns with either. The Corps has called both bridges “functionally obsolete.”
Massachusetts’ congressional delegation has been fighting for years — so far unsuccessfully — to secure federal funding to replace the bridges. In past efforts, federal lawmakers have asked for far more money, as much as $1.9 billion; state officials have said the effort could cost as much as $4 billion.
Still, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, as well as Representative Bill Keating, whose district includes the Cape, celebrated the news Thursday and praised the Biden administration for the early commitment to funding the project.
“This initial $350 million, toward a commitment of $600 million, is a critical down payment in President Biden’s budget,” Warren said in a statement Thursday. “The Biden administration is demonstrating their commitment to this vital project, and I’ll continue coordinating with local, state and federal partners on this much-needed investment for Massachusetts.”
Massachusetts was already awarded a $1.6 million planning grant for the project.
Markey said the initial budget request “demonstrates that the Army Corps is serious about replacing these outdated bridges and sends a clear signal that the Biden administration is committed to this project.”
Still, it’s far from guaranteed that the money will come through in this budget cycle. Biden’s budget is dead on arrival in Congress because the new House Republican majority strongly opposes the president’s mix of spending increases and tax hikes. The proposed budget is simply a starting point for negotiations over the coming months with Republicans in Congress, who have demanded spending cuts to slow the nation’s fast-rising debt and are expected to release their own budget plan this spring.
Jim Puzzanghera of the Globe staff contributed to this report.