Replacing two Cape Cod Canal bridges for an estimated $1 billion rather than rehabilitating them would be more cost-effective, according to a federal study announced on Oct. 3.

The draft of the long-awaited Major Rehabilitation Evaluation report, proposes two bridges built parallel to the existing Bourne and Sagamore crossings that include “the four authorized travel lanes and two additional auxiliary lanes…with appropriate bike/pedestrian access,” said District Engineer Col. William Conde, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District.

The Corps, which owns and maintains the two bridges, has also recommended adding shoulders, a median, which are not included on the existing bridges.

The study recommendations for the Massachusetts Rt. 28 Bourne Bridge and the Rt. 6 Sagamore Bridges brings hope of alleviating miles of traffic backups for drivers headed to Cape Cod on summer weekends.

The report notes that an engineering analysis was performed to demonstrate the reliability of major components of the two bridges, including the piers and abutments, the steel trusses supporting the deck and attached to the substructure and the deck.

The recommendation is “good news for the Cape and Islands,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in an Oct. 4 tweet. “Updating our infrastructure will help grow our economy and enhance public safety.”

Additionally, the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation completed a similar Cape Cod Canal Transportation study on Oct. 7. The MassDOT study lays out options including modifying and improving highway interchanges, and improvements for pedestrian, bicycle and transit access to improve multi-modal travel. 

The studies follow three decades of debate over the future of the Cape Cod bridges with state and local stakeholders seeking replacement of the bridges with more modern spans designed under current highway bridge standards.

The 84-year-old bridges that cross the Cape Cod Canal are requiring more frequent repair and maintenance that is expensive and frequently snarls traffic in summer. 

The Corps and MassDOT have collaborated throughout the bridge study in the interest of providing reliable transportation routes to and from Cape Cod for residents and visitors, according to the Corps Oct. 4 news release

The Corps has scheduled a series of public meetings on the recommendations of the draft study between Oct. 16 and Oct. 23 and will accept public comments through Nov. 1. The final report will be submitted to the Corps headquarters in Washington D.C. for a decision next February. 

Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says, “MassDOT has been working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because we both share the responsibility of ensuring that the public can safely and efficiently travel between the Cape and the mainland.  As we each take steps to replace transportation infrastructure we own, we will be carefully looking at the timing of scheduled construction so that the work is sequenced in such a way so that the public can still come and go for work, for pleasure or for vacation.”