Cape Cod, Massachusetts is only accessible by two bridges spanning the federal Cape Cod Canal
Washington (May 20, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Representatives William Keating (MA-09), and John Garamendi (CA-03) today 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. Damage to critical transportation arteries have inhibited first responders and disaster aid from reaching areas of need in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, such as Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico. The ESCAPE Act will provide targeted federal assistance to communities seeking to protect their citizens and fortify their critical mass evacuation routes from the adverse impacts of climate change.
“Our roads, ports, airports, waterways, and railways are vital everyday commerce and transportation arteries, while also facilitating mass evacuations and expediting recovery and emergency response in the worst-case situations,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. “When confronted with an emergency, no Massachusetts resident should have to question whether roads and bridges are strong enough to get their families to safety. The ESCAPE Act will help ensure that the nation’s evacuation routes have the capacity and resilience they need to fully serve their critical role.”
“Strong, well-designed, and resilient evacuation routes are a critical component of our public safety,” said Senator Warren. “I’m pleased to work with my colleagues on a bill that would ensure communities and first responders in Massachusetts, and across the country, have needed funds to prepare for emergencies and keep families safe.”
“We need to provide Americans with safe and reliable evacuation routes, especially in areas at elevated risk of disaster,”said Rep. Keating. “The Bourne and Sagamore Bridges over the Cape Cod Canal are especially vulnerable, as they have long exceeded their working lives. And yet, they remain the only lifelines for the residents of Cape Cod in times of emergency. Our communities have been hit by several Nor’easters the last few winters, and have also had several near-misses in recent hurricane seasons, including Hurricane Jose, which brought Tropical Storm conditions in 2017. The ESCAPE Act would ensure high-priority evacuation routes like the two Cape Cod bridges are stable and secure, and would be ready to meet the needs of the coastal communities in our area.”
“Creating safe and effective evacuation routes should be a priority for every lawmaker,” said Rep. Garamendi. “Last year, Paradise, California, just north of my district was reduced to rubble by the devastating Camp Fire. As the flames engulfed the single-lane road that served as the city’s primary evacuation route, residents were forced to abandon their vehicles and escape on foot—some to their death. The lack of adequate evacuation routes in our nation—particularly for small rural communities—is costing us lives every year. Our bicameral legislation would provide dedicated federal funding for evacuation routes that save lives in times of crisis,”
A copy of the ESCAPE Act can be found HERE.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts has a population of more than 200,000 people but is only accessible by two bridges spanning the federal Cape Cod Canal. Unfortunately, these two 80-year old bridges, which are crucial evacuation routes, are in a poor state and do not meet modern specifications. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains the bridges and is currently conducting a study to evaluate whether the bridges need to be replaced, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.