Design and construction
The bridge was constructed beginning in 1933 by the Public Works Administration from a design by firms Parsons, Klapp, Brinckerhoff, and Douglas as well as Mead and White (both of New York), for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which operates both the bridge and the canal. The bridge has a 544-foot (166 m) main span, with a 135-foot (41 m) clearance when raised, uses 1,100-short-ton (1,000 t) counterweights on each end, and opened on December 29, 1935.
At the time of its completion, it was the longest lift span in the world. It is now the second longest lift bridge in the United States, the longest being the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge between New Jersey and Staten Island, New York. The bridge replaced a 1910 bascule bridge.
In 2002, the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge underwent a major rehabilitation, including replacement of cables, machinery, and electrical systems, at a cost of $30 million and was reopened in 2003. The Bay Colony rail line on the Cape is used for a seasonal tourist train, the Cape Cod Central Railroad, and to haul trash to a waste-to-energy plant in Rochester, Massachusetts.