Cape Cod bridge replacement still possible with a new price, Stephen Lynch says

Despite twice being passed over for federal funding, plans to replace the bridges which carry holiday traffic and regular commuters to and from Cape Cod aren’t dead in the water yet, according U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch.

“I think we’re in great shape, to be honest with you,” Lynch said.

The Boston Democrat was speaking with WBZ’s Jon Keller during the host’s regular Sunday politics segment, when he was asked whether plans to rebuild the Bourne and Sagamore bridges were doomed after the grant applications had been rejected by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

It is estimated replacing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owned bridges will cost about $3.98 billion, a figure that Lynch told Keller is directly responsible for holding up the project and, more to the point, entirely wrong.

“As someone who used to build bridges for a living, I think those (estimates) are far in excess of what it would take to build those two bridges,” Lynch, a former iron worker, said.

Funding for the bridges is being sought under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a nearly $1.2 trillion investment plan signed by President Joe Biden in November.

Lynch says the state is due to receive about $8.5 billion for various infrastructure projects under the law, and that the $4 billion the federal government guesses the bridge replacement planning and replacement would cost was simply too much for the grant approving agency.

“I think it’s far in excess of what would be necessary,” he said. “I think it’s closer to half that amount.”

According to the Congressman, he has spoken to both President Joe Biden and Gov. Maura Healey about the matter, saying the state had to be honest about how much it might cost to move forward, but that it’s not the last chance to bid for funding.

“There may be a second bite at the apple in terms of trying to get federal funding for those two bridges,” he said. “But we gotta sit down and really sharpen our pencils and find out, what is that really going to cost?”

MassDOT and the USACE have been working together on plans to replace the federally-owned Bourne and Sagamore bridges. The two bridges provide the only roadway connection on and off Cape Cod for the 263,000 residents of the Cape and Islands, as well as for 5 million annual visitors.

In early January, state officials learned the Army Corp had failed in its bid for $1.88 billion from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration’s first round of the Bridge Investment Program Grants.