Today 31 May 2017 marks the twentieth anniversary of the opening of the Confederation Bridge linking the mainland of Canada to PEI. The construction of the bridge required a special amendment to the Canadian Constitution because it involved the clauses which allowed PEI at the time a colony to join Confederation. The Island Government had a special condition that in joining in 1873 they would get financing for the railway on the Island and also a ferry service paid for, operation and maintenance, by the Federal Government. A special referendum was held and 60% of the Islanders voted in favour of the construction of the bridge and the end of train service on the Island.
Construction of the 12.3 Km sea bridge over the Abegweit channel of the Strait of Northumberland took place between 1993-1997 at a cost of $1.3 Billion dollars. The architect was Frenchman Jean Mueller who developed a new technique of pre-cast concrete for such a construction making it a marvel of engineering, the longest bridge over sea water locked in ice in winter.
the footing of the bridge on the sea bed
The bridge under construction around 1995.
The bridge in Winter ice, this is when storms are at their worst with 100Km winds being frequent, but you can still cross with a private car.
What it looks like when driving across at the middle section point
The opening of the bridge was a very big deal for PEI and in the years that followed saw an increase in investments and business, day trips are now common to the Island, we are only 2 hours away from Moncton and 3 hours from Halifax, it put an end to the isolation and made going to and from New Brunswick or Nova Scotia much simpler and faster. What was lost was the adventure of the ferry service.
From my home in Charlottetown I am at 35 minutes from the bridge going West. The sticking point to this day is the toll to use the bridge at 46$ return. It is believed that in 2036 the toll will be removed once the contract with the private firm maintaining the bridge ends.