September 17, 2005


Two bridges, two lifelines (CONOR BERRY, 9/17/05, Cape Cod Times)

State officials say they're confident a regional evacuation plan for hurricanes and other serious disasters will function properly despite storm-related road closures that crippled both Cape bridges Thursday afternoon.

As remnants of Hurricane Ophelia sweep through the region today, bringing heavy rainfall, high winds and the possibility of coastal flooding, the bridge closures and related traffic jams have raised concerns about emergency planners' ability to evacuate the Cape. ''We have full confidence that the plan will work,'' said James Mannion, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Thursday's overlapping bridge closures on the Upper Cape delayed drivers, frazzled nerves, and tested people's patience. The Bourne Bridge was shut for more than two hours due to a weather-related construction accident, while the Sagamore Bridge was partially closed for more than an hour because of flooding on the Cape side of the span. [...]

[MassHighway spokesman Eric] Abel said the concrete approach slab on the north side of the bridge has not been rehabilitated since the bridge was built in the early 1930s. Excavation work on the bridge's north side will create a roughly 18-inch gap between the surface of the highway and the bridge itself, making it impossible to open and close bridge lanes on a daily basis, MassHighway officials said.

Meanwhile, Thursday's situation on the Upper Cape could prompt MEMA officials to take a fresh look at their evacuation plan.

''It's a living plan that's constantly changing, constantly updated,'' said Mannion, a MEMA spokesman.

Mannion said the weather-related bridge closures did not trigger a review of that plan, ''but we very well could look at it again.''

''This isn't the first time this question has come up, and it is of great concern.''

If a powerful hurricane were to require a full-scale evacuation all four lanes of each bridge would be opened to traffic streaming off Cape, according to Mannion.

''If this was a situation where we had to get people off, we'd go above and beyond,'' he said.

Oh, okay then....

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 17, 2005 11:59 PM

Anybody trying to leave the Cape on a Sunday night in summer knows how silly this is.

Posted by: erp at September 18, 2005 10:24 AM