The US Army Corp of Engineers is again blocking expanded use of the canal railroad bridge for additional CapeFLYER trains this summer. The CapeFLYER team posted this on their Facebook page on February 28: “Planning for this season is well underway. We were shot down again for an additional train.” The additional train was planned for Saturdays.
Back in May 2021, when an additional Saturday and Sunday round trip was first proposed so Cape residents could spend the day in Boston, the following was posted on the CapeFLYER Facebook page (since deleted): “Our big announcement is not as big as we wanted but lack of cooperation is prohibiting us from enhancing service as much as we’d like.”
A later post in that thread stated: “An agency did not agree to lower the bridge for the addition of 2-round trips per weekend. Which would have given Cape Codders the ability to head to Boston during the day.”
The Army Corps’ refusal for additional canal railroad bridge crossings on Saturdays is quite outrageous, considering:
The bridge saw much more frequent use in the 1980s for the old Cape Cod & Hyannis Railroad service from the Braintree Red Line terminal and Attleboro on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to the Cape, along with Amtrak’s Cape Codder service from Washington and New York, as I witnessed then as a Wareham resident.
Taxpayers have since paid tens of millions for the thorough rehabilitation of the Army Corps’ canal railroad bridge in the late 1990s/early 2000s. The bridge today is in much better condition than it was in the 1980s, when it was used much more frequently.
By the Army Corps’ own admission, as published in their annual “Waterbourne Commerce of the United States,” tonnage through the canal has dropped by nearly 60 percent since the 1980s. In 1985, 14,539 tons transited the canal, while in 2019 (the last year before the pandemic), that number had dropped to 6,715. The latest publicly available data show a much sharper drop during the pandemic. Clearly, commercial maritime traffic is not a reason there can’t be increased rail use of the bridge, weekends or otherwise.
Taxpayers are now expected to pay nearly $4 billion for new canal highway bridges and approaches to replace the Army Corps’ Bourne and Sagamore bridges, with no significant plans for public transportation improvements.
I suggest some public accountability by the Army Corps is long overdue.
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