If we can turn our attention away from the turmoil in our nation’s capital for a moment and look at what has been happening in our town, we will see that 2019 was a very good year for Bourne.
Main Street in Buzzards Bay has finally reemerged as a thriving downtown, new locally owned businesses have opened, we have a new town administrator, and town finances are strong.
Our downtown district still has a way to go to fulfill its potential, but it has turned the corner and is not likely to slide back now. A 20-year effort by town officials, property owners, and a dedicated corps of volunteers is finally beginning to show positive results. Most of the rundown buildings have been demolished and others rebuilt to host new shops and restaurants.
The opening of the new Hampton Inn is a key element of the downtown renewal. The town park has been repaired and continues to be a popular venue for community events and family recreation. Construction of the long-awaited wastewater treatment plant appears imminent, and the new police station will strengthen the town center image of Buzzards Bay.
All of these actions were envisioned in Bourne’s 2007 Local Comprehensive Plan. That plan has now been revised and updated, and was certified by the Cape Cod Commission in December. It continues to lay out a solid vision for Bourne as a town of village centers with an economy based largely on education, ocean-related businesses and recreation.
So, what might 2020 bring to Bourne? Certainly, replacement of the canal bridges will be a major topic of discussion and planning. The Army Corps of Engineers is wrapping up a five-year feasibility study and is expected to publish its final report soon. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is finalizing a 12-year study of canal region traffic that will need to be coordinated with the corps’ plans.
Statements have been reported that we might see new bridges within five years. As someone who has managed major projects jointly with both MassDOT and the corps, I can assure you that it will take much longer. Within that five-year time frame, we should expect to see a program that sets design parameters for the bridges and the roads leading to them. Funding sources will be identified, and initial design and permitting appropriations will be made.
The following five to 10 years will include land takings and resulting legal proceedings. During that time, economic feasibility studies and environmental impact reports will be prepared for each element of the project. Each element will also go through multiple federal, state and local permitting processes. After final engineering design, financing, and contract bidding, construction is likely to take at least five years.
In short, most of us who are past retirement age are not likely to see the new bridges completed in our lifetimes. In the meantime, watch for more new businesses to open in Buzzards Bay, as well as continued improvements in rail and bus service in Bourne, eventually including daily commuter trains. And be sure to frequent our burgeoning downtown to patronize both the new and the long-established businesses along Main Street.