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Choosing a developer for P.E.I.'s Confederation Bridge

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.

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The race has been narrowed to three developers proposing two types of bridge: the concrete bridge or the high-level cable-stayed bridge. The announcement is made today. Strait Crossing Inc, whose concrete bridge design will cost the least to build, is chosen. Before the announcement is made, representatives from the three companies sit nervously, having waited six long years for the news they're about to hear. They were chosen from twelve applicants, all of whom answered Public Works Canada's call for 'expressions of interest' back in 1987.
• Before the list was narrowed to three finalists, six proposals were under consideration. Only one suggested a tunnel option. The others proposed a variation of high-level, steel truss, cable-stayed or concrete bridges.

• Development plans stalled for the last time in 1990 when an environmental panel advised against a fixed link. The panel also stated that P.E.I. would reap few of the economic benefits associated with a bridge and that the tourism jobs would be a lower quality than the ferry worker jobs they would replace. In 1991, contradictory studies gave the project a green light.

• Calgary-based Strait Crossing had the lowest bid, at $40.6 million per year for an estimated five years, to build a concrete bridge.
• Strait Crossing won the Canadian Construction Association's 1994 Environmental Achievement Award for their environmental management of the project. One of their environmental feats was the creation of nesting platforms for osprey, an endangered bird.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 27, 1992
Guest(s): David Pirie, Bob Robertson
Reporter: Sue Murtaugh
Duration: 2:19

Last updated: March 9, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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