Did we forget the railroad? [Op Ed]

How do we bring tourist to the Cape, but not their cars?

By Andrew Putnam

For the last decade the Cape has had two major problems: the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges. For some time now many residents have been thinking the same thing - how do we bring tourists on Cape, but not their cars? Some say there is no easy solution to this problem, while others claim it to be a daunting and nearly impossible task. I on the other hand believe the answer has been right under our nose the entire time.

Decades ago Cape Cod utilized the railroad to transport not only goods and waste on and off the island, but passengers as well. In 1998 the use of the railway for passenger travel ended; possibly one of the worst things to happen to Cape residents in the last two decades. With the increase in seasonal traffic across our aging bridges each year, the time has come to start looking to the railroad as a possible solution to our summer traffic dilemma.

We are a man-made island that is economically being choked by our two bridges.

Recently the County Commissioners tossed around the idea of putting a toll on the bridge to charge nonresidents via a camera system that would take pictures of license plates and send a bill to the driver. Though this may sound like a good idea in theory, it could potentially backfire and it still wouldn’t improve the traffic situation on Cape. Let’s face it - the bridges are the Cape’s lifeline. Businesses need them to get supplies and even the two islands need them since goods are shipped over the bridges to the airport and then flown to the islands, or shipped to the ferries to be delivered by sea. So what can we do?

There are two paths to fixing the growing traffic problems on Cape and improving the flow of traffic. The first is to have our county government sit down with the state and see what we can do about getting the railroad up and running for passenger services (even if it is only seasonal). The second is to bring the Army Corps of Engineers to the table to discuss the bridges themselves. Since the Army Corps of Engineers actually owns the bridges (and have stated in the past that both were obsolete due to the high volume of traffic), it looks as if they are the only ones who can truly fix the problem, instead of just "maintaining" the bridges every year (and we all know how that works out when one lane is open).

The one thing that we cannot do is to continue to passively wait for a solution. We are a man-made island that is economically being choked by our two bridges. Without any solutions in the next couple of years we can almost guarantee that traffic will only get worse as time goes on.

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