Narrow bridges

Peter Gay: Cape Town’s bridges have a fascinating history | Columns

The day before our annual holiday in North Truro, I realized that I had never received the check-in information for Cottage 10 week at Days’ Cottage Condominiums.

The man who managed the chalet condos and oversaw the cleaning and gave us the key, died during the winter. I was worried because I had no idea who we were supposed to meet the next morning.

I decided to go to the appraiser page of the City of Truro website in hopes of finding the owner’s address and phone number. Although I couldn’t find the information I was looking for, I did find that the chalet we were staying in was 91 years old, having been built in 1931.

Long story short, the problem was resolved before we retired for the night.

I thought of the information on the reviewer page as we drove over the Bourne Bridge the next morning. A sign on the bridge stated that the bridge was built between 1933 and 1935.

The Sagamore Bridge must have been built first, I thought to myself, and made note to research it during the week. When I did, I discovered that both bridges were built at the same time by the Public Works Administration during the Great Depression.

I had crossed the Cape Cod Canal hundreds of times, but knew nothing of its history.

A Google search led me to the Army Corps of Engineers website where I learned that in 1904 wealthy financier August Belmont II purchased and reorganized the Boston, Cape Cod and New York Canal Co. , which had held a charter for canal construction since 1899.

Belmont’s company began work in 1909, a railway bridge was completed 18 months later, smaller versions of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges were completed in 1911 and 1913, respectively.

Serious shipping accidents caused many canal closures and sailors were rightly worried about fast currents and narrow bridge openings. It was a financial failure, according to the website.

The website details how Congress ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to resume operations in 1928 and make major improvements.

The Corps set out to replace the original road bridges, which were at ground level and opened as boats approached. Delays were significant for motorists and boaters had difficulty stopping due to fast currents.

Two elevated grounds were purchased and the current arch bridges, complete with suspension bridges, opened on the first full day of the summer of 1935, according to the website.

Six months and a week later, the first train rolled over the current railway bridge.

The canal was eventually widened to its current 480 feet with a depth of 32 feet beginning in 1935 and ending in 1940. At the time, it was the widest sea-level canal in the world. Dredging of areas outside the canal, including Onset Bay, made it easier for large ships to enter.

Not much has changed since then, although traffic has grown exponentially.

Two years ago, however, the Corps and the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works recommended replacing the current road bridges with structures built to modern standards, a project that will apparently include a redesign of road approaches. 3 and 6.

I can’t imagine what the traffic will be like while the project is underway, especially since the MassDOT highway division will play a major role.

Am I the only one who finds this less than comforting?

Peter Gay is the Executive Director of North Attleborough Community Television Inc. – North TV. The opinions expressed in his column are not necessarily those of North TV. Join it at [email protected]