The Confederation Bridge joins the eastern Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, making travel throughout the Maritimes easy and convenient. The curved, 12.9 kilometre (8 mile) long bridge is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water, and more than a decade after its construction, it endures as one of Canada’s top engineering achievements of the 20th century.
The decision to replace the existing ferry service with a fixed link followed a heated debate throughout the 1980’s. Farmers, fishermen, tourism operators, and residents of Prince Edward Island had sharply contrasting opinions about how year-round access to the mainland would affect their way of life and livelihood. Eventually, it was decided that the debate would be settled at the polls. The federal department of Public Works and Government Services selected its favourite bridge design out of several proposals from the private sector, and on January 18, 1988, Premier Joseph Ghiz asked Prince Edward Islanders to make the final decision in a plebiscite. At the polls, 59.4% of Islanders voted “Yes” to a fixed link.
After four years of construction using crews of more than five thousand local workers, the Confederation Bridge opened to traffic on May 31, 1997, at a total construction cost of one billion dollars.
Today, the Confederation Bridge is operated by Strait Crossing Bridge Limited, headquartered in the shadow of the bridge in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island.