There’s this idea that Cape Cod could use a third bridge.
On its face, it’s not a particularly bad idea, considering the terror that is, and has pretty much always been, Cape summer traffic. Nor is it a totally abstract idea. In fact, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation presented it earlier this year: a public-private partnership that would pay to build a third bridge. (Private investors would front the cash and make the money back in tolls.)
But it is still just an idea.
State officials met with possible funders for the bridge project Wednesday, The Cape Cod Times reports. In addition to the bridge, they also chatted about another possible public-private partnership, a tolled express lane for Route 3.
Discussion focused on a couple of bridge proposals. Under one, the new structure would be a tolled access road to the Cape aligned with the Sagamore Bridge, which would be converted to a one-way exit from the peninsula. Under a second proposal, a new bridge would be located between the two bridges, complete with new roadways, and it would serve both incoming and outgoing traffic, for a price.
That’s about as concrete as things have gotten, though.
There are major questions about price (shocking, of course, for a major—and to this point imaginary—transportation project).
Although the initial estimate for the bridge project was $320 million, (Department of Transportation Highway Administrator Frank) Depaola gave industry representatives a new estimate of $350 million to $650 million.
There are also ‘hell if I know’ type answers to questions about whether traffic would just wind up bottlenecking on the other side of the canal.
Someone else asked what many people on Cape Cod have already pondered: What happens to traffic once it gets onto the Cape and the two eastbound lanes of Route 6?
“That’s the most dangerous question I’ve been asked,’’ Depaola said.
And DOT itself is hardly promising much.
There’s internal competition at the Department of Transportation to see which project (the bridge or the Route 3 express lanes) will succeed first, Depaola said.
The two projects could be combined although that’s not how they’re currently being considered, he said.
Both projects could move forward, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Verseckes.
None of which is particularly surprising for any kind of major infrastructure project, especially just a few months removed from conception. The state’s presentation suggested it could seek proposals for the project as soon as 2016, at which point things might be a little more clear.
But for now, we can probably pump the brakes a bit—something at which we’ve had a lot of practice heading to and from the Cape.