Various proposals for a fixed link across the Northumberland Strait can be traced as far back as the 1870s when the province's railway system was developed. Subsequent proposals arose during federal elections in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The ebb and flow of public support for a fixed link was indirectly tied to the varying levels of federal investment in ferry and steamship connections to the province over the years, finally culminating in a proposal in the mid-1980s which resulted in the current bridge being constructed.
The bridge is a two-lane toll bridge that carries the Trans-Canada Highway between Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island (at Route 1) and Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick (at Route 16).
It is a multi-span balanced cantilever bridge with a post-tensioned concrete box girder structure. Most of the curved bridge is 40 metres (131 ft) above water with a 60 m (197 ft) navigation span for ship traffic. The bridge rests on 62 piers, of which the 44 main piers are 250 m (820 ft) apart. The bridge is 11 m (36 ft) wide.
The speed limit on the bridge is 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) but can vary with wind and weather conditions. When travelling at the speed limit, it takes about 12 minutes to cross the bridge.