The 8-mile long Confederation Bridge connects the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Worldwide, it is the longest bridge to span ice-covered water. The bridge was chosen by popular vote to replace ferry service between the provinces. The $1 billion bridge, which took four years to complete, was opened on May 31, 1997.
The bridge has a concrete box girder structure that rests on more than 60 piers. The hollow interior design allows utility lines to cross the water, connecting Prince Edward Island to the mainland. The elevation of the Confederation Bridge runs between 131 and 200 feet. This is high enough to allow sea ships such as cruise liners to pass beneath it.
Many safety features were incorporated into the design. The bridge has gentle curves so drivers must pay attention. The bituminous mixture that covers the road reduces the amount of water that vehicles spray up during wet weather. Barriers over 3 1/2 feet high serve as windbreakers and also reduce distractions. Rainwater, melting snow and ice exit the bridge through over 7,000 drain ports. However, during high winds, vehicles taller than 7 feet 2 inches, motorcycles and towing vehicles are prohibited from using the bridge.
Driving across the bridge takes about 10 minutes. Only passenger and commercial vehicles are allowed to cross it. Because of safety considerations, pedestrians and bicyclists must take shuttles.