The Confederation Bridge links Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick,Canada .Construction took place from October 1993 to May 1997 and cost $1.3 billion. The 12.9-kilometre bridge opened on May 31, 1997
The bridge is a two-lane toll bridge. It is a multi-span beam bridge with a post-tensioned concrete box girder structure.Most of the curved bridge is 40 metres above water with a 60 m navigation span for ship traffic. The bridge rests on 62 piers, of which the 44 main piers are 250 m apart. The bridge is 11 m wide.The speed limit on the bridge is 80 kilometres per hour. It takes about 12 minutes to cross the bridge .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.
Today, the Confederation Bridge is operated by Strait Crossing Bridge Limited, headquartered in the shadow of the bridge in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island.
Because of its phenomenal length, the Confederation Bridge uses a multi-span concrete box girder structure. Designed by a consortium headed by a joint-venture of J.Mueller International and Stantec, the award-winning, 12.9 kilometre-long structure consists of three parts: the 1.3 kilometre-long West Approach Bridge leaving New Brunswick’s Jourimain Island, over 14 piers; the 0.6 kilometre-long East Approach Bridge leaving Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island, over 7 piers; and the 11 kilometre-long Main Bridge which joins the approach bridges, resting on 44 piers.
Engineers incorporated a number of safety features into the bridge design including : graceful curves to ensure drivers remain attentive , and to reduce the potential for accidents that experts believe happen more often on straight highways or bridges; a road surface made of a speciallong-lasting bituminous mixture that minimizes vehicle spray during wet weather;1.1metre-high concrete barrier walls that minimize visual distraction and serve as a windbreak; and more than 7,000 drain ports that allow for the runoff of rainwater and melting snow and ice.
A crew of dedicated Bridge Control personnel provides full surveillance of the Confederation Bridge 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by way of a high -tech Traffic Management System (TMS), which allows for safety-conscious traffic control through state-of-the-art bridge monitoring.Two of theTMS’s most important components are the video surveillance system, comprised of twenty-two closed-circuit television cameras whose footage is displayed across multiple screens in the Bridge Control Centre; and the weather monitoring system, which provides real-time information on wind speed, wind direction, air and road temperature, humidity, dew point, and the rate of precipitation.
A wide range of computer-facilitated traffic control options including standard traffic signals, changeable speed limit signs,and changeable message boards , allow Bridge Control personnel to respond immediately to fluctuating road and traffic conditions . Considered one of the top engineering achievements of the 20th century, the Confederation Bridge has not only been recognized in the industry for its unique design and innovative construction techniques ; bridge designers and builders have also been awarded prestigious environmental awards for their sensitivity and concerns
for the surrounding environment.