The Confederation Bridge, joining Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in Canada, is a modern marvel that I’ve been pretty much infatuated with since I first saw the construction documentaries on the Discovery Channel several years back. Built across a eight mile long gap in the Northumberland Strait between the two provinces, the bridge is set against incredibly difficult natural forces. Ice floes are common, as are tremendous winds and fogs that still close the bridge from time to time. But it is the support columns, reinforced against iceberg impact that I still find most amazing to this day.
And so, as we started to plan our Maritimes itinerary crossing the bridge quickly rose to the top of my "to-do" list. Sure, I initially balked at the ~$50 toll rate for the crossing but in the grand scheme of the trip that’s a drop in the bucket, especially given my obsession. A bit of encouragement from some great friends pushed me over the edge and we were off.
Our route would take us eastbound across the bridge, starting on the New Brunswick side and crossing into PEI from there. But before we even got to the bridge I wanted some photos. Welcome to the Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area. There are two exits off the highway just before the crossing. The first, Exit 47 at Route 955, offers access via an unpaved road through the middle of the wetlands that make up the park. Pull off on the side of the road and you’re rewarded with views like this one:
The next exit ( #51) is the visitors center for the wildlife area. The center is a non-profit organization that offers up a few trails in the area and provides parking if you want to snap a couple photos from directly under the bridge, sortof like these:
Once we got that out of our system it was finally time to cross the bridge. So I set up the video camera and off we went. I managed to set the camera directly behind a bug splat on the windshield so I’m pretty annoyed but the ride is still pretty cool. Oh, and at 8 miles long the bridge crossing takes a while but I chose to speed up the video to avoid putting folks to sleep while watching.
Sure, it was just driving across a bridge at ~80km/h but it was also a great opportunity to experience a true marvel of modern engineering. Most definitely worth making the trip.
Read more of our Maritimes adventures here!
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The construction of this bridge was principally funded by a large Canadian pension fund, which, in exchange for funding the construction, collects the toll revenues. This is a great example of pension fund capital funding new infrastructure investments. Too bad the United States is generally very apprehensive of “private” infrastructure investment. This bridge is tangible evidence of what can happen. Without the private capital for this project, you would have likely been on the boat (where the fare could have been well north of $50).
It is also worth noting that the toll is one way. Had you been going the other way, you would have had $50 more in your pocket for more pei mussels.
Indeed, the toll is one-way and we ended up not paying it this trip. Much like New Jersey, one only pays to get out of PEI, not getting in, so our “toll” was the ferry fare and it was CAD$75 to leave. That, too, was a great ride and completely worth it, but also a bit surprising at the costs. I always thought the NYC tolls were high. Now I guess I have a new point of reference.
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