The replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridge inched closer to reality last week when President Joe Biden signed off on a series of appropriation bills that included $350 million towards the massive Cape infrastructure project. 

The plan to build two new spans across the Cape Cod Canal has now amassed about $722 million, and the state Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have a pending $1 billion grant application to the federal government. 

The 88-year-old arch bridges are the only vehicle access points to Woods Hole and the Steamship Authority terminal. Any freight bound for the Island that originates from off-Cape must go over one of the bridges. 

But both bridges have outlived their intended lifespan, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on a plan to replace them since 2019. The price tag for the replacement of both bridges now hovers at about $4.5 billion.

Federal Massachusetts lawmakers said the additional $350 million included in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act is a major step toward new bridges. 

“This funding is another major step towards replacing the aging Sagamore and Bourne bridges and delivering much-needed federal investment to Cape Cod, the Islands, and the surrounding region,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. William Keating said in a statement. 

The Army Corps owns the bridges and has worked out an agreement with the state that would allow the state to take them over after they are replaced. The state last year said it would first prioritize replacing the Sagamore Bridge because it has a large amount of annual traffic. 

The bridges currently have to undergo frequent and intensive repairs, a proposition that will only ratchet up if they are not replaced. Work on the Bourne Bridge in 2023 resulted in the loss of two lanes for more than a month.