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Cape Cod Times

'Then I sat there.' Residents, commuters frustrated as maintenance on Bourne Bridge begins

By Walker Armstrong, Cape Cod Times,


Commuters to and from the Cape and Islands are no strangers to the traffic and delays that maintenance on the 88-year-old Bourne and Sagamore bridges brings to the region.

But despite ample experience, the necessary work on the bridges underscores a deep frustration many commuters and residents alike harbor toward the aging infrastructure.

Starting Monday, and likely through November, it's scheduled maintenance of the Bourne Bridge.

“Usually I beat the traffic and get here early enough,” said Dylan Viera on Tuesday. Viera lives in New Bedford but works at the Dunkin' Donuts off Pocasset-Forestdale Road in Bourne. “But today it took me like 45 minutes to get across the bridge on top of my normal 30-minute drive,” he said.

Viera said he commutes to the Cape daily, working over 40 hours per week, and he expects the same volume of traffic to continue.

Delays in the area of the Bourne Bridge can be expected during the morning and afternoon peak travel periods each day, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Anybody that comes out here to the Cape, you’re going to expect traffic,” Viera said. “There’s going to be traffic going home, coming over, but never that bad — that was bad.”

What is the Bourne Bridge roadwork?

Monday marked the first day of a several weeks-long effort on the part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct regularly scheduled maintenance work on the Bourne Bridge.

In late August, a coalition of state lawmakers — namely Sen. Susan Moran, D-Falmouth and Rep. Steven Xiarhos, R-Barnstable — authored a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging them to delay maintenance ahead of Cape Cod Canal Day, which was later canceled due to Hurricane Lee.

Though many residents and commuters recognize the work as necessary and useful to prolong the life of the critical infrastructure, many still feel the effects of the double lane closure — forcing an already overwhelmed two-lane-in-each-direction crossing into one-lane each way.

How long does it take to get across the Bourne Bridge?

Debby Doyle, a resident of Wareham who works as a server and bartender at Bridge View Grill in Bourne on the Cape side of the bridge, said it would typically take her eight minutes to get to work from her home. On Tuesday, she said it took her 25 minutes.

“I don’t even want to think about this weekend,” Doyle said, referring to the upcoming weekend’s good weather that is expected to bring crowds to the Cape and Islands region.

“It’s going to be a parking lot in front of the building, and once they see the rotary they’re not going to want to stop,” Doyle said. She said she expects business to be hurt by the increased traffic.

Traffic gets backed up on side streets, not just on the Bourne Bridge

At The Blended Berry smoothie shop in Buzzards Bay on the mainland side of the bridge, Ava St. Germaine said the work doesn’t just affect the traffic on the bridge — the surrounding roads such as Main Street through Buzzards Bay and Belmont Circle rotary were backed up.

“I didn't think I would have any trouble with traffic, since it's supposed to be directed near (Bourne),” said St. Germaine, a resident of Wareham. “But coming down Cranberry Highway, it slowed down and then I sat there for, like, too long.”

A colleague of St. Germaine’s, Erin Hallam, said she now has to plan an extra 30 minutes or more ahead of time to get to work from her home near Monument Beach in Bourne.

“It stinks because I know they need the bridge work done, and that it has to get done at some point,” Hallam said. “But it definitely has an impact on the community.”

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