Confederation Bridge connects the provinces of Prince Edward Island (known as PEI) and New Brunswick on the Canada mainland, meaning that travel in the Maritimes has been made significantly more convenient since the bridge was opened in 1997. Since the province of Nova Scotia is a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean from the far eastern coast of New Brunswick and is almost completely surrounded by water, the Confederation Bridge PEI has made Prince Edward Island more accessible from there as well. During its construction, the GDP of Prince Edward Island increased by more than five percent, creating an economic mini-boom.
Until the Confederation Bridge was built, the journey to Prince Edward Island was possible only by air or by ship (during the summer) and ice-breakers (during the rest of the year). Many ships on Canada cruises make a port stop at Charlottetown on PEI during the summer and early fall, but these stops are almost always only for one or two nights. If you came to PEI by ferry or air, you would have to resort to car rentals in Charlottetown. Nonetheless, there was heated debate about the Confederation Bridge PEI throughout the 1980s, since different sectors of PEI residents had conflicting opinions on the impact that a fixed link and year-round access would have on the island. It was finally put to a vote in 1988, and nearly 60 percent of the islanders voted in favor of the structure.
One of the most important facts about Confederation Bridge in Canada is that it is the longest bridge in the world over ice-covered water, making it one of the engineering marvels of the twentieth century. Other facts about Confederation Bridge in Canada include a price tag of more than 1 billion dollars, a labor force of more than 5,000 construction workers, and its eight mile length. The next longest bridge over ice-covered water is the New Saratov Bridge north of Volgograd over the Volga River in Russia, at just under eight miles in length. The Oresund Bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden is technically longer, but it crosses over an island for two miles of its length.
The Confederation Bridge is strictly a roadway, with no train track and no pedestrian sidewalk or bicycle path. There is a shuttle service across the bridge, and you can bring your bicycle with advance arrangements. Before the Confederation Bridge PEI was built, the Trans-Canada Highway connected the nine lower provinces of Canada from Vancouver, British Columbia to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Today, Prince Edward Island is the tenth province linked to the Trans-Canada Highway. There is a toll to cross the bridge (only from Prince Edward Island), and it takes about ten minutes to make the crossing by car.
While the facts about Confederation Bridge in Canada are fascinating, many simply marvel at the graceful beauty of the curving structure—equally dramatic during warm weather with crisp blue skies and calm blue seas as it is in the winter with white and gray chunks of frozen ice below. Tourism to Prince Edward Island increased dramatically after the completion of the bridge, although numbers of visitors dipped below 1996 figures by 2010, as many come to visit the small island only on day trips from Halifax. The province has countered this trend with the development of more upscale facilities including golf courses and luxury hotels.