US Army Corps of Engineers
New England District Website Website

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is the Corps looking at repairing or replacing the bridges?
The current bridges are more than 84 years old and built to 1930s standards. We would need a great deal of maintenance and rehabilitation over the coming years to keep the current bridges safe for the public. However, we know that traffic is impacted any time we perform maintenance and close lanes on the bridges which affects the economy in Cape Cod. Therefore, we’re working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Federal Highways Administration to find the most reliable, fiscally responsible solution for the future.

What is a Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER)?
The Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER) is an evaluation of the risk and reliability of the highway bridge structures as well as the economic impacts/benefits of a number of major rehabilitation and bridge replacement alternatives versus continuing to repair the bridges as needed. The MRER does not result in a final bridge design, initiate construction, or guarantee funding. It was a decision document on whether the Corps should replace, rehab or continue to repair the bridges.

What does the Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER) consist of?
The Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER) is comprised of four elements: 1) structural engineering analysis of the bridges; 2) cost estimates for rehabilitation and/or replacement alternatives; 3) economic costs and benefits of the alternatives; and 4) environmental considerations.

Are you coordinating your plans with the Cape Cod public?
As part of the Major Rehabilitation Evaluation Report (MRER), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) study is coordinating with state and federal agencies to ensure information is shared widely and feedback from the public is received. As such, USACE is holding public information meetings to allow the public in and around Cape Cod an opportunity to provide their thoughts and concerns about the bridge study, potential alternatives and environmental concerns and issues. Five initial public meetings were held in and around the region in December 2018 and additional public meetings were held upon the release of the Draft MRER Bridge Study in October 2019. Additionally, the public may submit comments through November 1st via this web site, e-mailed to nae-pn-nav@usace.army.mil or mailed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Attn: Craig Martin, 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. We value your feedback and encourage you to share this information with friends and family who also may wish to provide comments.

Will you hold public meetings or hearings?
Five initial public meetings were held in and around the region in December 2018 and additional public meetings were held upon the release of the Draft MRER Bridge Study in October 2019.

The Corps public information meetings were held at the following dates and locations:
– Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 in the Bourne High School auditorium, 75 Waterhouse Road in Bourne, Mass.
– Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 in the Plymouth South High School, Performing Arts Center, 490 Long Pond Road in Plymouth, Mass.
– Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 in the Nantucket High School auditorium, 10 Surfside Road in Nantucket, Mass.
– Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 in the Martha’s Vineyard High School Performing Arts Center, 100 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
– Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018 in the Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center, 744 West Main Street in Hyannis, Mass.

Additional public information meetings were held in October 2019 following publishing of the draft MRER to provide the public and other stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on those draft documents.
– Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 in the Bourne High School auditorium, 75 Waterhouse Road in Bourne, Mass.
– Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 in the Plymouth South High School, Performing Arts Center, 490 Long Pond Road in Plymouth, Mass.
– Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 in the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Federal Building, 10 Causeway Street in Boston, Mass.
– Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 in the Nauset Regional High School Performing Arts Center, 100 Cable Road in Eastham, Mass.
– Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 in the Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center, 744 West Main Street in Hyannis, Mass.

Who will make the final decision on whether to replace the bridges or not?
Our final recommendation or report will incorporate public feedback and undergo a series of reviews by experienced subject matter experts from the private & academic sectors and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers division and headquarters elements. We anticipate sending our final recommendation to our regional headquarters in New York for review February 2020. It will then go to the Headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters in Washington, D.C. for approval or denial. We are committed to thoroughly review the information received and to make a decision based on the best available information and analysis.

If you replace the bridges will the current bridges be part of the construction plan?
Our recommendation is that new bridges would be built immediately adjacent to the existing Bourne and Sagamore bridges so current transportation infrastructure can be connected. Current bridges would remain operational during construction of the new bridges. The legacy bridges would then be removed after the new bridges are constructed and operational.

When will we know the Corps decision on the bridges?
A decision was made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works on April 3, 2020 to replace the current Bourne and Sagamore Bridges with two new bridges built to modern-day standards. This solution provides the federal government with the best long-term investment for safe access to Cape Cod for the traveling public over the next 50 plus years.

Is the Corps working with MassDOT on its plans for the Cape Cod Canal bridges?
Yes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District and MassDOT have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together on all issues related to the Cape Cod Canal Bridges to include repairs and/or replacement, and to make efforts to reduce the impact the residents and visitors of Cape Cod. The agencies periodically meet to discuss their individual studies and how they can collaborate for improved efficiencies. The Corps manages the canal bridges, while MassDOT manages the approaches to the Cape Cod Canal Bridges and surrounding transportation infrastructure. The Corps is working collaboratively with MassDOT to provide technical assistance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as it undertakes a $10M state-led bridge type, size, and location study for the replacement highway bridges and adjoining infrastructure. This effort is the next step in bringing a long term solution to safe, modern access to the Cape for the next 50 plus years.

What agencies are the Corps working with on this study and their plans for the future?
The Corps is cooperating and coordinating with Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Office, Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, among others. We are committed to working with our interagency partners to find the best solution for the region.

How many cars use the bridges each year?
Each year, more than 35 million vehicles cross the two bridges; that’s about 18 million for the Sagamore Bridge and 17 million for the Bourne Bridge.

Why can’t you convert the Railroad Bridge into a highway bridge?
There is still a need for rail service to and from Cape Cod so that is not something that the Corps is planning.

Are the bridges different sizes?
The Sagamore Bridge is 1,408 feet long. The Bourne Bridge is 2,384 feet long.

I heard the bridges are functionally obsolete. What does that mean?
Because the bridges were built 83 years ago, they were built to the standards necessary for the vehicles and traffic of that era. They are considered functionally obsolete because of narrow lane widths, narrow to non-existent shoulder widths, lack of a median, and inadequate pedestrian and bicycle access.

It has been said the bridges are built to out-of-date standards. What does that mean?
The current bridges are more than 84 years old and built to 1930s standards. This means that the standards for vehicles and traffic are vastly different than today. The lane widths are narrow, the shoulder widths are narrow to non-existent and there is inadequate pedestrian and bicycle access. We would need a great deal of maintenance and rehabilitation over the coming years to keep the current bridges safe for the public and we know this affects the traffic and economy of Cape Cod.

Are the bridges safe?
The current bridges are routinely inspected and an extensive amount of maintenance is conducted to ensure the bridges are safe.

How many people visit Cape Cod Canal each year?
More than 3 million visitors annually enjoy the Canal and its adjacent lands for diverse outdoor activities, including interpretive programs run by Corps rangers, and the Canal Visitor Center. Service roads are popular for biking, hiking, roller blading and walking.

How many vessels use the Cape Cod Canal?
Approximately 22,000 vessels of all types use the Cape Cod Canal annually.

Where can I get more information about the Cape Cod Canal?
For details on the Cape Cod Canal visit the website at https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Cape-Cod-Canal/Navigation/. There is also a link on the site to recreation opportunities at the Canal.

Where can I send my comments and concerns about the Canal bridge MRER study and the Environmental Assessment?
Public comments and concerns about the Canal bridge MRER study and the Environmental Assessment can be posted on the website or mailed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Attn: Cape Cod Canal Bridges Study NEPA Coordinator, 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742.