Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bill Keating’s amendment to provide $5 million for the Cape bridges infrastructure was passed in the House and will be included in the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill. The amendment is specifically designated to fund the design of replacement bridge infrastructure for federally designated escape routes.
Said Congressman Keating of the amendment:
“As many of bridges across the nation are reaching the end of their useful lives, it is important for the Department to prioritize funding for the design of new structures needed to replace these out of date and outmoded bridges. This is most critical for bridges that constitute essential components of evacuation routes, such as our two Cape Cod bridges. When these structures are owned by the United States Government, we have both a legal and a moral responsibility to ensure that they are adequate to the demands put upon them.
In my district, nearly 250,000 of my constituents live on the peninsula of Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. In the event of an emergency, these citizens’ only available evacuation route is over the Cape Cod Canal bridges. The Canal bridges were completed in 1935 and 1938. They were constructed for the age of the Model T, and not the age of the SUV.
The Canal bridges are now insufficient for the needs of the Cape and Islands community. The lanes on the bridges are too narrow, and do not reflect current federal highway standards. They lack a breakdown lane that could be used for additional road space in an emergency. With the Canal bridges in their current state on a busy summer weekend, the traffic can back up for miles. During an evacuation scenario, this congestion would be far worse and pose a real risk to public safety.
The Cape Cod Canal bridges have reached the end of their useful lives, and modern replacements for them will be needed within the next several years. Replacements bridges must be designed soon so that the United States Government can live up to its responsibility to provide transit for Cape Cod residents and visitors over the Cape Cod Canal—especially in the event of an emergency.
The Canal bridges, and projects like them across the nation, need funding to support them through the costly design phase. Without designs in hand, it is impossible for transportation planners to precisely estimate the scope of work and costs of replacing this aging infrastructure so they can move forward towards construction. That is why my amendment is so important not only for our community, but communities like ours around the country.”
Last month, Congressman Keating reintroduced the Enhancing the Strength and Capacity of America’s Primary Evacuation Routes (ESCAPE) Act, legislation that dedicates $1 billion of federal resources to expand the capacity and improve the resilience of the nation’s evacuation routes. His original cosponsor in the House is Rep. John Garamendi (CA-03). Massachusetts Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren reintroduced the legislation in the Senate.