New Cape Cod Bridges

DominusNovus

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That's it in a nutshell. Sometimes things don't change until the next generation gets to be in charge, and the boomers have pretty much overstayed their welcome. They'll support spending $1 BN on bridges for their cars but continue to protest peanuts for improved transit, bike lanes, sidewalks (yes, there are people on the Cape who protest sidewalks!), and building attainable housing for the local workforce.

Rebuilding the bridges makes sense if they're past their lifespan, but doing anything that adds more capacity is a fruitless endeavor. The local road networks just can't handle more cars.
Not exactly my point, specifically. The Cape needs road improvements, too.

Its not so much that NIMBYs protest everything but cars, they protest everything including cars. In Falmouth, for example, the locals keep objecting to widening rte 28 a few feet, because some trees will get cut down. Its not a car vs mass transit thing, its a stasis vs progress thing.
 

Charlie_mta

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I'm sure there would be a hundred environmental objections, defended by the courts, that would prevent filling in the Canal. Trust me, I've tried to fill in parts of waterways in my line of work, and it will never happen.
 

meddlepal

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Loved the aesthetic design of the current bridges... hated driving over them all the years I did so. Far too narrow for the speed of traffic if you were traveling onto the Cape during non tourist times.

Here's hoping the Army Corps proposes some bold designs.
 

whighlander

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The Cape Cod Canal was built in the same heady 1900~1920 era of both Peak Canal (NY Barge Canal (1905), Panama (1914)) and Peak Railroad (1914)--neither mode saw personal autos, freight trucking, airlines, or the interstates coming.

The canal is simply not necessary. Coal, Oil and passenger volumes would never justify digging it were it not already dug. If it is expensive to keep open and causes them to spend too much on a long, high underclearance bridge, it might make great sense to fill or narrow the canal.
This thread is amazing to read -- I almost think I'm reading stuff coming full-ignorant throttle out of DC

Let's put this into context:
  1. US Army Corps of Engineers [Waltham] is the author [I'd be willing to bet that everyone in the project has been to the Cape and some of the people involved in the work might even have vacation homes on the Cape]-- their tasking is to build and operate the US navigable waterway and are responsible some of the time to providing crossings of same] such as the Cape Cod Canal
  2. These bridges were authorized by the US Congress in the Great Depression Era and will be nearly 100 years old when the new bridges are open to traffic [about 10 years from now] -- note these were not stone bridges built by the Emperor Trajan 2000 years ago -- 100 years is a long time for steel structure exposed to a lot of marine environment
  3. Anyone who has ever driven across them in any significant amount of wind can not seriously question their inadequacy to meeting safety standards -- let alone capacity during [pick your summer weekend]
  4. In the event of a major disaster -- they are the only realistic means of evacuating people from the Cape
  5. Ignoring the commuters and the visitors arriving by car -- The bridges provide most of the Cape and the Islands with most of their materials which have to be obtained off-Cape
  6. I spent more than one hour reviewing the study [linked in the initial post] -- it is very thorough [including the options of filling in the canal or putting in a draw bridge or a tunnel]
    1. It is also as it says several times -- Preliminary with no real engineering / architectural work on a design and construction -- just place holders or templates [such as Cable-stayed bridge for estimates of cost and construction time table]​
    2. The report also emphasizes that the Bridges and their immediate approaches are the only responsibility of the US Army Corps of Engineers -- the Commonwealth DOT is entirely responsible for any and all work responsible for connecting the new bridges to the existing [or modified road network]​
    3. Despite the additional apparent lanes the report reiterates that only 4 Travel lanes are authorized by the original Congressional Mandate and aside from the median [non existent in the 1930's era], bicycle and walking paths [apparently permitted?] they can do no more than either replicate the existing 4 travel Lanes or add the two merging lanes without further Congressional Action​
  7. Finally -- no funds are at this time committed to the project -- so it remains somewhat hypothetical

PS: as for filling the Canal -- you might as well suggest making the Back Bay into a salt water marsh
 

Arlington

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WHighlander, I don't get it. There are 4 disconnected thoughts in the above. Could you connect them?
1) A block quote from me asserting that the canal was economically obsolete soon after completion, and is totally economically unjustified now
2) A opening assertion that thread posts are ignorant. (Is the whole upthread ignorant? do you include yourself in that number? Or just my block quote?)
3) Context, which, while true, doesn't actually seem connected to any prioritization/rank-sort of the plans.
4) a PS "as for filling the Canal -- you might as well suggest making the Back Bay into a salt water marsh," which seems to misunderstand the word "filling" by assuming its maximal meaning of "obliterate with dirt" rather than keeping an open mind about non-maximal filling such as "using earthen works to help span, even at the cost of restricting navigation"

So, no, on #4, no I don't see the "might as well"
a) The Back Bay is not economically obsolete, the Canal is.
b) The Back Bay is filled with registered voters. The Canal isn't
c) The Back Bay is not spanned by obsolete infrastructure that will cost $1b to replace, the Canal is
d) The act of marshifying the Back Bay would increase the cost of spanning it, filling (narrowing) the Canal could potentially decrease the cost of spanning it.

An earthen causeway might be a good way to launch/land a lower fixed span bridge (that allows sailboats and barges under, but not oceangoing freighters.

I'd say A span capable of passing only recreational boats + barges/tugs might be much cheaper to build. Do you consider it ignorant to say that?

I'm going to go further: if the canal's shores were no longer transportation infrastructure, they could be filled for all kinds of useful/valuable stuff: parks, boat landings, waterfront residential, kind of like selling off an obsolete WWII airbase, no longer useful for transport, and returning it to something more locally-useful.
 
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CSTH

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Just feeling like dropping this detail into the discussion: among the alternatives considered by ACE were tunneling, building a third bridge, or FILLING IN THE CANAL!! Now that's how you put the Engineers into Army Corps of Engineers. It's worth keeping in mind that these bridges are such albatrosses to ACE that they thought it might make sense to study a complete removal of the conditions that make the bridges necessary in the first place, navigable waterway be damned. Can you even imagine?

I have to assume that that was just a strawman. The canal is part of the intracoastal waterway, and was built / designated to provide protection from submarine attacks on merchant shipping. Also the nantucket shoals are no joke and the canal is a lot safer way up the east coast than dealing with those is.

I mean - they're not going to fill it in.
 

Equilibria

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The Cape Cod Canal was built in the same heady 1900~1920 era of both Peak Canal (NY Barge Canal (1905), Panama (1914)) and Peak Railroad (1914)--neither mode saw personal autos, freight trucking, airlines, or the interstates coming.

The canal is simply not necessary. Coal, Oil and passenger volumes would never justify digging it were it not already dug. If it is expensive to keep open and causes them to spend too much on a long, high underclearance bridge, it might make great sense to fill or narrow the canal.
This is discussed in depth in the USACE report.
 

whighlander

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WHighlander, I don't get it. There are 4 disconnected thoughts in the above. Could you connect them?
1) A block quote from me asserting that the canal was economically obsolete soon after completion, and is totally economically unjustified now
2) A opening assertion that thread posts are ignorant. (Is the whole upthread ignorant? do you include yourself in that number? Or just my block quote?)
3) Context, which, while true, doesn't actually seem connected to any prioritization/rank-sort of the plans.
4) a PS "as for filling the Canal -- you might as well suggest making the Back Bay into a salt water marsh," which seems to misunderstand the word "filling" by assuming its maximal meaning of "obliterate with dirt" rather than keeping an open mind about non-maximal filling such as "using earthen works to help span, even at the cost of restricting navigation"

So, no, on #4, no I don't see the "might as well"
a) The Back Bay is not economically obsolete, the Canal is.
b) The Back Bay is filled with registered voters. The Canal isn't
c) The Back Bay is not spanned by obsolete infrastructure that will cost $1b to replace, the Canal is
d) The act of marshifying the Back Bay would increase the cost of spanning it, filling (narrowing) the Canal could potentially decrease the cost of spanning it.

An earthen causeway might be a good way to launch/land a lower fixed span bridge (that allows sailboats and barges under, but not oceangoing freighters.

I'd say A span capable of passing only recreational boats + barges/tugs might be much cheaper to build. Do you consider it ignorant to say that?

I'm going to go further: if the canal's shores were no longer transportation infrastructure, they could be filled for all kinds of useful/valuable stuff: parks, boat landings, waterfront residential, kind of like selling off an obsolete WWII airbase, no longer useful for transport, and returning it to something more locally-useful.
Arlington -- the remark about the Back Bay was in reference to the "would have never dug the Canal in the first place" -- no one today could possibly get a permit to fill the Back Bay -- that was a creation of a different era
So - - if you wanted to return the Charles to what it was say 180 years ago -- it not even worth talking about it
Similarly -- to get the permits to fill the Cape Cod Canal -- its not even worth talking about -- just dealing with marine life that now migrated through the Canal would require hundreds of studies and millions of pages of documents

So -- let'd then deal with reality -- the Canal will continue to exist as long as the Cape exists [about the next Glaciation]
Now if you have the Canal and the vast majority of people who want to access the Cape drive cars -- then you have to have either bridges or a tunnel system with at least the capacity of the presenrt system

The Corps of Engineers looked at all of these issues -- their conclusion is that two bridges must be built to replace the existing aging spans. Given their Congressional mandate for the bridges the travel lanes are limited to 2x2 on each bridge with the ability to enhance safety with 2 acceleration / deceleration lanes

That is where things as far a planning the design and constriction schedules in detail and then raising money for construction begin
 

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