Falmouth DPW Director Ray Jack’s assessment of the Army Corps of Engineers’ plans for the Bourne and Sagamore bridges and the roads around them contained some food for thought for those who think about the future of Cape Cod.
Mr. Jack believes the Army Corps will build two new bridges to replace the existing spans, but not with anything that resembles what is there today. The proposed new bridges would be 136 feet wide, almost three times the width of the existing bridges, and would carry three lanes of traffic in each direction. And the approaches to the bridges would be reconfigured to speed up crossings.
Sounds good so far, but here is the concerning, perhaps perplexing part: Traffic over the next 20 years is expected to increase more than 40 percent over the Sagamore Bridge and more than 19 percent over the Bourne Bridge. Those are staggering numbers.
How did the Army Corps and the state Department of Transportation come up with those estimates? How is it that traffic will increase that much?
The population of the Cape and the volume of visitors will increase in the next couple of decades, but not likely by that much. So what else might contribute to the increase?
It wasn’t the place or time for Mr. Jack to get into the details of the Army Corps’s and DOT’s calculations and what data they are based on. So we are left to guess.
One change over the last decade or so is that more people living off-Cape are commuting here to work. It is simply too expensive to live and work in the same place.
Regardless of why traffic is expected to increase 20 to 40 percent, there may be serious ramifications if the predictions are accurate. Big increases in traffic over the bridges inescapably means big increases in traffic elsewhere. Will Cape roads be able to absorb that?
Cape regional planners are undoubtedly thinking about this. So should everyone else.
The Falmouth Enterprise