Officials working on plan to bring 3rd bridge to the Cape

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CAPE COD, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Traffic relief getting on and off Cape - can it be true?

State and local officials are working on a plan they say could make it a reality in seven to 10 years.

The idea is to build a sister bridge 15 feet south of the Sagamore bridge, which would make one bridge for inbound traffic and one for outbound.

"The capacity of the bridge is about 1,100 cars an hour. Two Labor Day weekends ago, it took 13 hours for all the cars to dissipate and go below that 1,100 cars an hour limit. So if you could increase travel time by an hour, two hours for people, I think that would be huge, said Wendy Northcross, chief executive of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

Northcross says that the project is just not a matter of convenience, but one of safety, too, especially if people on Cape had to evacuate.

"I think it's fabulous. Anything to improve the a traffic flow down to the Cape is wonderful," Margaret Perras, of New Hampshire, said on Sunday. "The reason we're coming today is to avoid the traffic."

Margaret and her sister Anne Alexakos waited an extra day before coming on Cape for one of their so-called "sister trips." They say the traffic relief can't come soon enough.

"It's impossible. People traveling with families and children. Why not?" said Alexakos."This should have been done 15 years ago."

The proposed project is expected to cost about $320 million. It could have high-occupancy tolls on them, the kind of tolls where drivers don't stop to pay. It's it's expected to be the state's largest public-private partnership to date. And that type of project also means that a company would come in and build the bridge, and also operate it.

Northcross says these so-called P-3 projects are becoming popular across the country, and more importantly have proven effective.

"It's done with roadways, bridges, tunnels. So in exchange there'd be a revenue payment back to that company whether it's through a toll structure, whether the state decides to pay out over time," Northcross said. "It's another way for private companies to get a higher return on their investment, quite honestly."

Officials say tolls could range from $2 to $10, but for Sandwich native Jo Burton, a toll, or new unnatural structure on scenic Cape Cod is a small price to pay.

"As much as we don't like this exo-structure or whatever you wanna call it, the bridges, I think it's necessary. I  think it's gonna help a whole lot, because the traffic is still bad today."