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Discussion of a fixed link can be traced to George Howlan, who called for construction of a railway tunnel beneath Abegweit Passage at the same time as the Prince Edward Island Railway was being built across the province in the 1870s.
Howlan also raised the issue as a member of the provincial Legislative Assembly, and in March 1891, as a Senator and member of a delegation to meetings on the subject, conducted at the British Parliament. Talk of a fixed link was revived in the 1950s and 1960s, coinciding with federal election campaigns.
The federal government favoured the construction of a fixed link chiefly because of the rising costs of providing ferry service (a constitutional requirement dating from PEI's accession to Confederation) and the increasing deficits being incurred by the railway system on PEI (run as part of Canadian National, then a Crown corporation).
The unsatisfactory winter steamship service and reliance upon primitive iceboats provoked complaints from the Island government until the federal government decided to implement a railcar ferry service across Abegweit Passage between new ports at Port Borden and Cape Tormentine.
In 1912, the federal government promised to open a car ferry between the "Capes" (Cape Traverse, PEI to Cape Tormentine, NB).
Approach roads and railway lines were constructed at Borden and Jourimain Island but the project was formally abandoned in 1969 upon scientific recommendation in favour of improved ferry services.
Due to the extremely complex tidal regime in the Northumberland Strait consisting of diurnal and semi-diurnal cycles, any attempt to close Abegweit Passage would be next to impossible since the tidal cycles on each side of a causeway would be placed at opposites to each other.
The bridge rests on 62 piers, of which the 44 main piers are 250 m (820 ft) apart. The speed limit on the bridge is 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) but can vary with wind and weather conditions.