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Lesson 09 – Canada’s Longest Bridge

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Read About Canada’s Longest Bridge

Vocabulary

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Canada’s Longest Bridge

The longest bridge in Canada links the country’s smallest province to the rest of the nation. Stretching across the Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, the Confederation Bridge is the country’s longest bridge. 

Spans and Piers

From the moment building began in 1993, constructing the Confederation Bridge was a huge project. The bridge was built using the world’s largest floating crane, standing more than 30 storeys high. This immense crane moved posts and girders weighing up to 7500 tonnes and placed them with great delicacy and accuracy. 

Confederation Bridge is constructed from 44 sections called spans, and each of these has supports called piers to hold it up. Those piers have to withstand the thick ice that forms each winter in the Northumberland Strait. This bridge is the world’s longest bridge over a body of water that freezes in the winter. Sometimes the ice piles up to form cliffs that are as much as 10 metres high. 

A floating crane

Icy Shields

That ice was a major concern during the building of the Confederation Bridge. Each of its piers has a concrete ice shield protecting its base. These shields function like the bow of a ship cutting its way through thick ice. Instead of smashing against the pier’s base, the ice is forced to ride up the pier and is then broken apart. The shields on the bridge’s piers can stand up to the force of 3000 tonnes of ice. That is about 15 times the force that icebreaker ships in the Arctic have to withstand. 

The Confederation Bridge in winter

In 1996, the name Confederation Bridge was chosen for the project. The first meetings that led to the country’s Confederation in 1867 were held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, so the name seemed appropriate. However, because of Anne of Green Gables’ connection to the island, some people have nicknamed the bridge “Span of Green Gables”! 

Farewell to Ferries

The bridge officially opened on May 31, 1997. Many Islanders bid a sad farewell to the ferries that had carried people to and from the island for many years. However, thanks to the Confederation Bridge, potatoes and seafood can now move much more quickly off Prince Edward Island. That means exports of both have increased, which helps many farmers and fishers make a living.

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