The U.S. Department of Transportation recently rejected an application by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $1.8 billion in funding for the nearly century-old Bourne and Sagamore bridges that connect mainland Massachusetts to Cape Cod.

The application was for federal funds made available through a bridge replacement program via the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Commonwealth was hoping to secure the funding to assist with the nearly $4 billion total price tag to replace the bridges. Funding was awarded to Connecticut, California, Illinois and California.

Following the news, much public criticism was levied at the state's federal congressional delegation for failing to secure the funding.

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U.S. Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) who represents Cape Cod and much of Southeastern Massachusetts in Congress, appeared on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight and clarified that the narrative surrounding the bridge replacement funding is a misrepresentation of the application process.

Keating said the end result of the work would be four bridges, a set of twin bridges on each side. The work would be completed some time around 2031.

Keating said the money allocated for the bridge replacement program is distributed in phases, so while the Cape Cod bridges did not qualify for this round of funding, they will have more opportunities for funding throughout the project's development.

The congressman also explained that it is Congress' job to allocate the money, which it did by passing the infrastructure legislation. However, it is the state government's responsibility to submit a competitive grant to secure the funds.

"We fill the orchard, but someone has to pick the fruit," Keating said. "So the people picking the fruit were the Army Corps and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Keating said after bringing US DOT and the Commonwealth together to figure out why applications were denied, it was discovered that the Commonwealth did not meet two of the required criteria for the program: offering matching funds and setting an earlier start date.

"These grants weren't competitive at all," Keating said. "So what they have to do going forward is put some matching funds on the table so you can compete with the other grants that are in there and move up the time frame where you start construction sooner."

Keating anticipates that as more funding becomes available, the Cape Cod bridge replacements will receive funding now that they are making more competitive grant applications.

"This impression that, 'Oh my god, we lost out on all the money,' is inaccurate," Keating said. "Because the money is coming out in slices over a long period of time, and we'll get them."

Listen to Congressman Keating's full interview on SouthCoast Tonight.

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