Angus L. Macdonald Bridge
The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, locally known as "the old bridge", is a suspension bridge crossing Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia, Canada; it opened on April 2, 1955. The bridge is one of two suspension bridges currently linking the Halifax Peninsula to Dartmouth in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is named after the former premier of Nova Scotia, Angus L. Macdonald, who had died in 1954 and had been instrumental in having the bridge built. The bridge was designed by Phillip Pratley, one of Canada's foremost long-span bridge designers who had also been responsible for the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver . The bridges have a similar design, which is most notable in the towers. The contractor was Dominion Bridge Company Ltd. The bridge occasionally experiences traffic congestion during rush hours as a result of the structure's proximity to the downtown cores of Halifax and Dartmouth, as well as its narrow width. Large commercial vehicles are not permitted to cross and must use the wider MacKay bridge to the north-west. Public transit buses are allowed to cross and the bridge links several Metro Transit routes. Some Acadian Lines inter-city bus routes use the bridge to access the Halifax Railway Station. In 2005 the average number of vehicle crossings per day was 37,739.

Modernisation project
A modernisation project was undertaken in the late 1990s and completed in 1999 which saw the original 2 lanes and 1 sidewalk and utility corridor expanded to 3 lanes, with the centre lane being reversible to assist with traffic flow during peak periods. To reduce the weight of the roadway, asphalt and concrete were removed and special steel plating (an orthotropic deck) was used in its place. New pedestrian and bicycle lanes were attached to the outside of the structure to replace the original sidewalks. External aesthetic lights were added during the modernisation project which saw the bridge's towers lit for the first time on a continuous basis every evening from sunset until midnight. Critics derided the effort as a waste of electricity, given Halifax Harbour's frequent foggy weather conditions. The lighting was estimated by the bridge authority to cost in excess of $50,000 a year in 1999. As of 2007, the bridge charges a toll (75¢, 60¢ with MACPASS electronic toll system) to cross for regular passenger vehicles. Larger vehicles have higher tolls proportional to the number of axles. Beginning May 1, 2008, tokens were no longer accepted as payment to cross the bridges.

Suicide barrier controversy
The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge has attracted media attention as a "hot-spot" for suicides. Among others, environmental activist Tooker Gomberg is believed to have committed suicide here. In July 2007, suicide barriers were installed along 22% of the pedestrian lane at the bridge's western end (Halifax abutment) to prevent suicide attempts and protect navy personnel at HMC Dockyard which the bridge crosses over. As of March 2010 the remaining secttions of the suicide barrier have been installed, the bridge now has suicide barriers along 100% of its pedestrian walkways. On May 13, 2009 the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission general manager and CEO Steve Snider announced that a tender for the long-called for extension of the barriers along the full length of the bridge would be issued in June 2009. New computer modeling eliminated previous concerns that the bridge was not capable of handling the weight of the additional steel.

  • A memorial has been placed near the bridge commission headquarters building at the Dartmouth abutment honouring the iron workers who built the bridge.
  • The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge was seen in the 1990's children television show " Theodore Tugboat" as "Benjamin Bridge".
  • The pedestrian and bicycle lanes are part of the Trans Canada Trail.
  • The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge appeared in the 2003 movie Martha, Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart .
  • The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge appeared in the 2004 movie Sex Traffic .
  • The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge was closed for a short time when the toll plaza was severely damaged by Hurricane Juan in 2003.
  • To locals, the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge is referred to as the "old bridge" since the construction of the A. Murray MacKay Bridge in 1970.
  • In July 2006 emergency telephones were installed on the bridge to summon officials in the event of an emergency.


2 photos