MassDOT Eyes New Bridge for Boston Beachgoers

Can a public-private partnership deal ease summer beach traffic?

The Sagamore Bridge in Sagamore, Massachusetts, connects Cape Cod with the mainland. (Photo by Andrew Bossi)

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Summer’s here, and that means so are weekend beach-going traffic headaches for many city-dwellers. Bostonians looking to escape during the season often head south to Cape Cod, but its popularity makes getting there a slow trip. The Sagamore Bridge is one of the few options for drivers wishing to access the Bay State’s famous summer destination, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is looking for private funding to build a three-lane span next to the bridge.

The Boston Globe has details on the infrastructure project.

It would be limited to Cape-bound traffic, and drivers would pay a toll to use it. The Sagamore, meanwhile, would become a one-way, three-lane bridge to handle traffic coming off the Cape, with no toll.

Those who don’t want to pay to get across the canal could still take the Bourne Bridge, nearly four-and-a-half miles away.

The Globe reports that the new bridge could be a decade away, but that the future of the project seems promising for two reasons:

A formal effort is underway to find private investors willing to pay for highway projects in exchange for toll revenue. And then there is the arrival of open-road tolling that lets fares be collected without drivers having to slow and further clog traffic.

“Governor [Charlie] Baker believes public-private partnerships offer effective tools for upgrading the Commonwealth’s infrastructure,” a spokesman told the Globe. “He looks forward to reviewing the canal bridge study, as it is clear Cape Cod traffic is a real concern.”

The project also needs approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the existing bridges and controls the Cape Cod Canal, and Cape Cod residents, whose support highway officials say is critical to move forward.

The Boston region still has a hangover from a winter transit headache that’s led to the Governor’s call for tighter control of the MBTA, which oversees bus, rail and ferry routes.

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Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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Tags: transportation spendingbostonbridgesbeaches

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