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Trudeau government calls off P.E.I. causeway plan

Almost since Confederation, a link between Prince Edward Island and the rest of Canada was a lively possibility. But would a fixed link sacrifice the island's stand-alone charm or just make life more convenient? And could a link disrupt the delicate ecosystem of the Northumberland Strait? From fishermen to farmers to ferry workers, the island's prospects were debated and protected. In 1988, after a referendum with 60 per cent in favour, the inevitable came to pass. It wouldn't be a tunnel or causeway; it would be a curvaceous, 12.9-kilometre bridge.

Plans for a fixed crossing have just been abandoned. Trudeau's government has set aside the idea in favour of an economic development agreement and improved ferry service. Five years of reviews, evaluations and proposals have all been cast aside. CBC Radio's Max Ferguson takes the opportunity to poke fun at the politicians who simply won't follow through, while painting a picture of what P.E.I. might look like with lots of goods for export...but no connection to the mainland.
• The first recorded talk of a fixed link was in 1886, when Senator George Howlan proposed a tunnel or subway laid along the sea floor.
• Between 1956 and 1965, fixed crossings proposals were heard from both liberal and conservative politicians in P.E.I. They got only as far as bulldozing access roads for the proposed bridge-causeway combination before the plans were dropped.

• In 1969, the Lucy Maud Montgomery ferry was put into service to ease ferry lineups.
• Dormant for almost 15 years, the plan to build a bridge was revived once more when Public Works Canada submitted a bridge proposal to the federal government in 1982. When the wheels were set in motion this time around, they never stopped.
Medium: Radio
Program: Saturday A.M.
Broadcast Date: March 8, 1969
Host: Max Ferguson
Duration: 6:20

Last updated: February 3, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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