A. Murray MacKay Bridge

The A. Murray MacKay Bridge, known locally as "the new bridge", is a suspension bridge linking the Halifax Peninsula with Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and opened on July 10, 1970. It is one of two suspension bridges crossing Halifax Harbour, its counterpart, the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, having been completed in 1955. The bridge carries on average 52,000 vehicle crossings per day,[2] and is part of Nova Scotia Highway 111.

A. Murray MacKay Bridge
A Murray MacKay Bridge.jpg
The MacKay Bridge as seen from Halifax
Coordinates44°40′40″N 63°36′43″W / 44.6778°N 63.6119°W / 44.6778; -63.6119Coordinates: 44°40′40″N 63°36′43″W / 44.6778°N 63.6119°W / 44.6778; -63.6119
CarriesFour lanes of Hwy 111
CrossesHalifax Harbour
LocaleHalifax Regional Municipality (HalifaxDartmouth)
Official nameA. Murray MacKay Bridge
Other name(s)MacKay Bridge, the New Bridge
Maintained byHalifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission
DesignSuspension bridge
Total length1.2 kilometres
Width4 lanes
Height96 meters (315 feet.)
Longest span426 metres (1,397 feet)
Clearance above55.2 meters (181.21 feet.) at centre-span
Clearance below46.9 meters (153.87 feet.) at centre-span
Construction start1966
OpenedJuly 10, 1970
Daily traffic66,000 (2012) [1]
Toll$1.00 CAD cash / $0.80 MACPASS

As of April 1, 2011, the toll charge to cross for regular passenger vehicles is $1.00 cash, or 80¢ with the Macpass electronic toll system (60¢ tokens were once used but are no longer accepted as of May 1, 2008). Larger vehicles have higher tolls proportional to the number of axles. The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission is exploring the idea of moving entirely to electronic tolls to avoid handling tokens or cash. The A. Murray MacKay Bridge is the only harbour bridge that permits semi-trailers and large trucks. Pedestrians and bicycles are not permitted on the A. Murray MacKay Bridge; they may instead use dedicated lanes on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge.


The bridge measures 1,200 m (3,900 ft), with the total of all suspended spans being 739.9 m (2,427 ft) in length, carrying four traffic lanes with posted speed limits of 70 km/h (43 mph). It was designed with a maximum road gradient of 4 per cent. It is notable as having been the first bridge built in North America using an orthotropic steel deck, which yielded a completed structure having half the overall mass of the nearby Macdonald Bridge. The bridge's engineering also pioneered the use of wind tunnel testing, which considered the impact of winds on the structure both during construction and when complete.[3]


In 1970, a decision was made to finance the construction of the bridge with low-interest loans denominated in foreign currencies. That decision saved money in the short term and allowed the tolls to be kept low. However, the subsequent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar against the German Mark and the Swiss franc cancelled out the interest cost advantage and caused a massive increase in annual debt servicing costs. At its peak, the Commission's debt amounted to nearly $125 million, nearly triple the approximate $42 million combined cost of construction for both harbour bridges.

Impact on developmentEdit

The building of the MacKay Bridge, along with Highway 111, initiated a development boom in Dartmouth which eclipsed that created by the Macdonald Bridge during the 1950s and 1960s. The Burnside Business Park, the Mic Mac Mall shopping centre, and several residential developments in the Albro Lake neighbourhood in Dartmouth's north end during the 1970s are directly attributable to the bridge's construction.



Political controversy preceded construction of the MacKay Bridge when the city of Halifax expropriated residents from the community of Africville near the Halifax abutment. New highway interchanges were built with the northern end of Barrington Street, and an extension of Robie Street and the Bedford Highway (Trunk 2), as well as realignments of Highway 102 and Bayers Road. It was also necessary to realign some CN railway trackage in the area.

Proposed renamingEdit

The bridge is named after Alexander Murray MacKay, chairman of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission from 1951 to 1971 and past chief executive officer of MT&T. MacKay was instrumental in having both the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and his namesake structure built during his tenure at the commission.

Following the death of former Nova Scotia premier Robert L. Stanfield in 2003, there was a motion made to rename the MacKay Bridge to honour Stanfield, but the Stanfield family did not want any current structures already named for persons to be changed for Stanfield's sake. In 2007, the Halifax International Airport was renamed Halifax - Robert L. Stanfield International Airport; several new schools and other institutional buildings are also under consideration for Stanfield's name. The appropriateness of a bridge being named after a living Bridge Commission chair during his tenure remains controversial.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Taber, Jane (May 14, 2012). "Racy 'Bridget' campaign aims to reduce traffic on Halifax bridges". The Globe and Mail.
  2. ^ Halifax Harbour Bridges, Traffic information Archived 2010-09-23 at the Wayback Machine, 2009
  3. ^ Norman R. Ball, senior editor, Building Canada: A history of public works, Canadian Association of Public Works, University of Toronto Press, 1988, pp. 25-26

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