Thoughts On A Toll Bridge...

Let's start with some numbers:

Bourne Bridge

Year round daily average (2011) = 42,505 vehicles

Summer daily average = 58,467

Sagamore Bridge

Year round daily average = 51,489

Summer daily average = 70,674

Those numbers lead to impassable traffic jams, jams where ten mile drives take 3 hours. You've all heard the war stories. "25 mile backups during Hurricane Bob," or "90 minutes from the the 6A/130 intersection to the Sagamore Bridge during the Mother's Day Massacre of 2012." 

Bourne residents literally can't go anywhere and hope to come back on Friday afternoons, Saturday/Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, during the Monday commute, and/or during any holiday/event.

Emergency evacuation is impossible, property values suffer, the quality of life is lowered, and the last sentence of the previous paragraph is literally saying "as a Bourne resident, you sacrifice about 10-15% of your waking life to traffic."

This would be tolerable in Boston, where there are a million people zipping about. It shouldn't be the case in Buzzards Bay, where 3000 souls can be found on any given day. It makes me want to stab someone more than I care to admit.

Here's how I see it....

* We need a third bridge.

* We need a third road leading up to that bridge.

* If we want it, we'll have to pay for it.

* We'll pay for it with a toll bridge.

* The tolls will be there forever, even after the bridge is paid off.

* Prices will increase as businesses pass the toll costs onto the consumers.

* We shall eventually pay billions for a $300 million bridge.

* Splitting traffic up at the Christmas Tree Shop and then merging it back together 400 yards across the Canal will not resolve our traffic problems. It may in fact make it worse.

* The bridge will not meet the stated goal of easing traffic volume at all, and it serves no other purpose.

* If we don't do something, this nightmare is imminent. 

* It seems to have fallen to me to brainstorm something.

I'm not picking on MA State Rep. Randy Hunt or Cape Cod Commission CEO Wendy Northcross there. Randy is obviously putting thought and effort into the problem, and Wendy answered almost everything I asked her about the topic. They just don't seem to see the basic problems inherent in this situation, or they feel that the problems are tenable and/or unavoidable.

Pols are sort of bound by what they think they can sell in Washington or the State House. They know they will have to claw through miles of red tape to even get the idea mentioned. They know that there will be many hands reaching into our pockets once the project gets green-lighted, especially with a Massachusetts highway project. 

All of that real world stuff gets them used to operating in a way that somehow prohibits Thinking Big.

The intricate solution is beyond my capabilities. I was working at the Market Basket not that long ago, and if I showed any Urban Planning skill in high school, a series of guidance counselors failed to mention it to me. However, the basic philosophy on what we need to do is well within my skill set. You'll see it, too.

The toll will generate billions in revenue, without reducing traffic at all. It is almost punitive. Only someone with a financial stake in a road-construction industry or highway management can like the idea. Any politician who supports it should be chased through the streets by a mob of angry constituents, and perhaps be kicked in the ribs a bunch of times.

If we and our tourists are going to spend billions over the life of a toll bridge, we should at least get what we pay for. 

50,000 cars a day times $5 a pop = $250,000 a day in toll revenue.

Let's lower the toll rate so that I can just say "a million a week" and "maybe $5 a car is a doomsday estimate" without stretching the truth too far.

300 weeks pays off the project. 300 weeks is like, uhm, 6 years or something.

But the toll will last forever.

Heck, we'll even throw in a decade or two to cover any/all maintenance costs, and a third decade to cover the eventual replace-the-old-Sagamore-Bridge costs. Over an assumed 100 year lifespan of the bridge, this still has the Man needlessly in your pocket for 65 years.

The only way for us to get any value out of this is if our project is so massive, it takes a century of tolls to pay for it.

Off the top of my head, I'd drop a third bridge right in the middle of the other two. I would gut Bournedale with roads connecting to Route 25 and Route 3, seizing Bournedale Road and Herring Pond Road by Eminent Domain if need be. I'd make the road into a big Y, with the bottom part of the Y being the third bridge.

I'd do an upside down version on the other side of the bridge, after taking some land from the gub'mint. The forks of the letter can sort of ^ towards Route 28 and Route 6 through the military base.

Shoot, why not build it in such a way that we can line it with Burger Kings, Cumberland Farms and Exxons? I have never met a local economy that couldn't use a rush of jobs. Perhaps even a Bournedale Mall would not be out of the question.

It would actually solve the problem that Main Street in Buzzards Bay has had since the freeway went in. Route 25 cut off our Tourist Flow, so we get back at Route 25 by cutting into it to run those same tourists by our businesses again. Main Street could slowly re-design itself to suit more immediate local needs, which it is sort of doing now anyhow.

There would be some ugliness to They Tore Down The Carter Beal Nature Preserve And Put Up A Gas Station With A Dunkin' Donuts In It, no doubt. We could mute the environmental damage by building an elaborate Arc de Triomphe bridge over the herring run in Bournedale. 

I'd also go with a wrap-around fishing pier along the bottom of the bridges, and light all of the bridges up like they do with the Zakim Bridge. I'd celebrate the opening with a party so huge and chaotic, it would make V-J Day look like someone just won a Scrabble game. 

It's being paid for... why not? 

Hold on... this guy did a better pic than I did.

In my world of the future, we now have a third bridge. It is fed by roads which break off from highways which are already in place. The roads break off at the exact points (the Ingersoll Bend and Herring Pond Road) where we currently begin our present bumper-to-bumper congestion. We strike at the areas with the lowest population densities, mostly swamp and wasteland. Anyone we displace is compensated handsomely.

Locals can still use Main Street, Sandwich Road, the Cranberry Highway, the Scenic Highway and 6A for local-type stuff, which leads us to the best part. Before I get to that best part, I'd like to add that this plan would probably allow us to get rid of the two Bourne Bridge rotaries, and just have intersections like normal towns do.

The best part? The third bridge would be almost 100% Tourist. The current bridges feed the Bourne villages, while this hypothetical third bridge would empty into a discontinued military base and some Bournedale swampland. It would be of little use to locals, and it would only be used by tourists.

And it is this bridge that would bear the dreaded Toll. Holler if you hear me.

Now we have the burden where it should be. Tourists can pay for their own bridge. Smarter hotels and tourist destinations can comp guests for the toll. Bourne residents have suffered for years to fill Harwich restaurants with tourists, so cry me a river, Mooncussers.

Bourne and perhaps Sandwich residents will be exempt from any tolls, of course. We've been tolled in Traffic Patience for the last 100 years. F*** you.

The toll bridge can also be used by the rich man to skip heavier traffic at the free bridges via a small shedding of excess wealth, as the new bridge would sport a very low traffic volume for most of the week.  A five dollar toll for an empty bridge may also be an acceptable and necessary luxury to a working stiff who is running late for work on an important day.

We may have to somehow divert traffic to the toll bridge on certain Touristy days while preserving the free bridges for local traffic, and perhaps even invest in some of that Urban Warfare stuff that the cops get in larger cities where the people riot a lot. Maybe we can borrow some tanks from the military base. 

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, if you'll pardon the pun.

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