MassDOT, USACE Establish Bridge Project Agreement

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation recently signed a new memorandum of understanding or MOU on behalf of the state the U.S. Department of the Army and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or USACE in regard to the care, maintenance and operation of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges.  

[Above photo by MassDOT]

Under the agreement, the USACE will continue to own, operate, and maintain the existing Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, with MassDOT serving as the lead project delivery agency with responsibility to construct and subsequently own, operate, and maintain two new bridges. 

The MOU is a critical piece of the Sagamore Project that also represents “Phase 1” of the Cape Cod Bridges Program, which seeks to replace both bridges – structures that are essential for supporting the economy of Cape Cod and surrounding communities and ensuring safe and reliable travel for residents, workers, and millions of annual visitors.

Photo by MassDOT

The existing bridges are federally owned assets, operated by the USACE, and provide the only means of vehicular access across the Cape Cod Canal.

Specifically, MassDOT said the MOU “reinforces the ongoing commitment” by all the parties involved to address both the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, while acknowledging that the projects will need to be implemented in a “phased process.”

MassDOT will be responsible for the design, permitting and construction of the project and the USACE will provide assistance throughout the process.

The MOU commits Massachusetts to providing $700 million to the Cape Bridge Program and the USACE to provide $600 million, subject to appropriations from Congress. Under the terms of the MOU, Massachusetts will assume ownership of the replacement bridges.

“This agreement is an important step forward in our efforts to replace the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges,” noted Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey (D) in a statement.

“From day one, our administration said we were going to do everything we can to deliver on this project that is critical for the economy of the Cape and our entire state,” she said. 

The projects also present a “powerful opportunity,” in the governor’s words, to modernize the replacement bridge designs to improve safety, mobility, and resiliency; increase economic vitality; and improve access through the expansion of pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure. 

The modernized and reconfigured designs will bring the bridges into a state of good repair, lower the long-term maintenance costs, address issues with traffic operations, improve safety by reducing crashes by as much as 48 percent, and preserve and enhance productivity through new direct jobs and other economic benefits, according to MassDOT. 

“[This MOU] helps lay out our next steps; helping us move forward in collaboration with our federal partners in reconstructing the two bridges,” explained Monica Tibbits-Nutt, MassDOT secretary and CEO.

“We will strive to engage the town and city officials in the region, community leaders, residents, business owners and other stakeholders as we work on these transformational projects that will ensure visitors and residents will have modern options to travel to and from the Cape and Islands,” she added.

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