Massachusetts delegation reintroduces legislation to improve evacuation routes

ESCAPE Act to provide federal assistance to communities seeking to fortify critical mass evacuation routes

February 19, 2021 / 2 minute read
The Bourne Bridge in Massachusetts
The Bourne Bridge in Massachusetts is one of two bridges serving as evacuation routes for the the Cape and Islands region in the state. Image: Jpo [CCA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, along with U.S. Rep. Bill Keating—all of Massachusetts—this week reintroduced the Enhancing the Strength and Capacity of America’s Primary Evacuation Routes (ESCAPE) Act. 

The legislation dedicates $1 billion of federal resources annually to expand the capacity and improve the nation’s evacuation routes

According to Senator Markey's office, damage to critical transportation arteries have inhibited first responders and essential aid from reaching areas of need in the aftermath of extreme weather events and natural disasters, which are only growing in severity as a result of climate change. To keep communities in Massachusetts resilient, evacuation routes from vulnerable areas must also be able to accommodate a potential mass of individuals fleeing for safety, Senator Markey's office said. The ESCAPE Act will provide targeted federal assistance to communities seeking to protect their citizens and fortify their critical mass evacuation routes moving forward.

“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,” Senator Markey said in a statement. “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.”

According to the senator's office, the Cape and Islands in Massachusetts have a population of nearly 250,000 people. However, this region is only accessible by two bridges spanning the Cape Cod Canal, the Bourne and Sagamore. These two structures are not only essential for daily travel, but must also be ready to serve as vital escape routes for residents and vacationers alike in the event of an emergency. The two bridges are structurally deficient and in need of replacement. This legislation will provide another funding mechanism for this project that recognizes the Canal Bridges’ status as critical evacuation routes, lawmakers said.

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SOURCE: Office of Senator Ed Markey

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