Mackinac Bridge Authority

Spanning the Straits of Mackinac since 1957

Frequently Asked Questions

Annual Bridge Walk

Answer:
For safety reasons, we do not allow banners, flags, umbrellas, or signs. We ask that you exercise good judgement for the safety of all who participate in this family orientated event.

Answer:
Running is not permitted during the Bridge Walk. We ask that you respect this rule for the safety of all who participate in this family oriented event. There is a jogging event held in May sponsored by the Mackinaw City Visitors Bureau. For details, please call 231-436-5574.

Bridge services

Answer:
The phone is located on the shoulder of I-75 just north of the Jamet Street exit to Mackinaw City (near Audies Restaurant). You do not need to exit the freeway. Just past the exit, you can pull over to the right and park on the shoulder. The phone box is located on the right-of-way fencing. The box is green and easily spotted. If this is still unclear, please call us at 906-643-7600.

Answer:
The Mackinac Bridge Authority has a “Drivers Assistance Program” that provides drivers for those uncomfortable with driving across the Mackinac Bridge. If you are traveling northbound, there is a phone at the south end of the bridge. Instructions for using the phone are posted in the phone box. If you are southbound, just ask a fare collector for assistance. There is no additional fee for this service.

Answer:
Bicyclists are not allowed to cross the Mackinac Bridge on their own. The Mackinac Bridge Authority will transport your group across the bridge in Mackinac Bridge Authority vehicles. The fee is $5.00 per bicycle. If you are traveling northbound, there is a phone at the south end of the bridge. Instructions for using the phone are posted in the phone box. If you are southbound, please go to our service window in the administration building and ask for assistance. The administration building is located on the north end of the Mackinac Bridge on the east side of the toll plaza. The service is provided on an as needed basis. If you need additional information please call us at 906-643-7600.

Answer:
The Mackinac Bridge Authority will transport snowmobiles across the structure at a cost of $15 per sled one way, plus $3.50 for each additional rider. The service is provided daily from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and is offered on an “on call” basis.

The designated loading areas are the Travel Information Center on Nicolet Street in Mackinaw City and on Service Drive immediately north of US-2 in St. Ignace. Please call the Mackinac Bridge Authority at 906-643-7600 to arrange for pick-up. Customers will be required to sign a liability waiver form before utilizing the service.

For those customers preferring to trailer their own snow machines northbound, there is a public parking area in St. Ignace at the St. Ignace Marina located on the I-75 Business Loop. Parking in the City Marina is free.

Facts

Answer:
The width of the roadway is 54 feet. The outside lanes are 12 feet wide (2), the inside lanes are 11 feet wide (2), the center mall is 2 feet wide, and the catwalk, curb and rail width is 3 feet on each side – totaling 54 feet. The stiffening truss width in the suspended span is 68 feet wide making it wider than the roadway it supports.

Answer:
All suspension bridges are designed to move to accommodate wind, change in temperature, and weight. It is possible that the deck at center span could move as much as 35 feet (east or west) due to high winds. This would only happen under severe wind conditions. The deck would not swing or “sway” but rather move slowly in one direction based on the force and direction of the wind. After the wind subsides, the weight of the vehicles crossing would slowly move it back into center position.

Answer:
The steel superstructure will support one ton per lineal foot per roadway (northbound or southbound). The length of the steel superstructure is 19,243 feet. Each direction will, therefore, support 19,243 tons. The answer is 38,486 tons (2 x 19,243 tons).

Answer:
The Mackinac Bridge is currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world. In 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan became the longest with a total suspension of 12,826 feet. The Great Belt Bridge in Halsskov-Sprogoe, Denmark, which also opened in 1998, is the second longest suspension bridge in the world with a total suspension of 8,921 feet. The Mackinac Bridge is still the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. The total length of the Mackinac Bridge is 26,372 feet. The length of the suspension bridge (including anchorages) is 8,614 feet. The length from cable bent pier to cable bent pier is 7,400 feet. Length of main span (between towers) is 3,800 feet.

Answer:
The height of the roadway at mid-span is approximately 200 feet above water level. The vertical clearance at normal temperature is 155 feet at the center of the main suspension span and 135 feet at the boundaries of the 3,000 ft. navigation channel.

Answer:
The Mackinac Bridge is located in northern Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac. The bridge connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. Mackinaw City is located at the south end of the bridge. St. Ignace is located at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge.

Answer:
There are two large finger joints at the towers to accommodate all the expansion of the suspended spans. There are 11 smaller finger joints and 5 sliding joints across the Mackinac Bridge. In addition, there are 13 expansion joints for the south viaduct spans – one for each of these simple spans. This adds up to a total of 31 total joints.

History

Answer:
Michigan has two peninsulas – the Upper and the Lower. The closest point between the peninsulas is the Straits of Mackinac – approximately 4 miles in length. Because of the distance and difficulty to get back and forth, people were interested in improving transportation and commerce. In 1923, the State Highway Department started ferry service in the Straits area in response to demand for service. Ferry boats were very popular and the demand increased. In the last year of operation, the ferries transported 900,000 vehicles. The ferries couldn’t keep up with the demand. It proved that if you provided a connection, people would use it.

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The bridge was opened to traffic on November 1, 1957.

Answer:
Bonds ($99,800,000) for the project were issued in early 1954. The proceeds to the Authority amounted to $96,400,033.33. The cost to design the project was $3,500,000 (Steinman Company). The cost to construct the bridge was $70, 268,500. Two primary contractors were hired to build the bridge: American Bridge for superstructure – $44,532,900; and Merritt-Chapman and Scott of New York for the foundations – $25,735,600. The remainder of the proceeds from the bond sale was used to service the bond debt both during and after construction. Tolls could not be collected until the bridge was opened to traffic on November 1, 1957.

Answer:
Five men died during the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. The names of the five workers and dates of death: Frank Pepper, September 16, 1954; James R. LeSarge, October 10, 1954; Albert Abbott, October 25, 1954; Jack C. Baker, June 6, 1956; and, Robert Koppen, June 6, 1956. Information about the five workers who died during construction of the Mackinac Bridge can be found in Mr. Larry Rubin’s book titled “Bridging the Straits”.

Answer:
There are no bodies buried in the concrete supports of the Mackinac Bridge. Five workers died during the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. One died in a diving accident; one fell in a caisson while welding; one fell a couple of feet into the water and drowned; and two fell from a temporary catwalk near the top of north tower. All but one body was recovered. When the two workers fell from the temporary catwalk, they fell approximately 550 feet. One body was recovered immediately. A three-day search for the other worker ended without success.

All of the general information that we formerly sent out by mail has been placed on our web site for your convenience. Please browse through our various menu items such as facts and figures, the photo gallery and the history pages. You are welcome to download pictures from our web site to use in your report.

Answer:
Mackinac is Canadian French, short for Michilimackinac, from early Ojibwa “Missilimaahkinaank” which means “at the territory of the Mishinimaki”. The Mishinimaki was an extinct division of the Ojibwa formerly living in this region.

Answer:
The French pronounced it “aw” but spelled it “ac”. The British heard it pronounced “aw” so they spelled it that way. Whichever way you see it spelled, it is always pronounced “aw”.

Miscellaneous

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For information about Michigan, please go to our Links of Interest button and click on “Travel Michigan”.

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For travel information, We recommend that you contact agencies such as Travel Michigan, the Mackinaw Chamber of Commerce, the Mackinaw Tourist Bureau, the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce, and the St. Ignace Tourist Bureau.

To access these web sites, go to
Links of Interest on our web site menu; then select the tourism agency of your choice. For information about Mackinac Island, please contact the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau at 906-847-3783 or visit their web site at www.mackinacisland.org

Answer:
To get a side profile schematic, try contacting Errolgraphics Inc., P.O. Box 40800, Portland, Oregon 97240. They produced a side schematic in 1997. Their web site is www.errolgraphics.com.

Answer:
The live camera picture of the Mackinac Bridge is a very popular feature of our site and others. The camera and live picture are provided as a courtesy of Freeway, Inc., a Voyager.net company. The camera periodically experiences transmission difficulty. When this happens, Freeway has been very efficient at correcting the problem. Thank you for your patience.

Answer:
The live camera picture of the Mackinac Bridge is a very popular feature of our site and others. The camera and live picture are provided as a courtesy of Freeway, Inc., a Voyager.net company. The camera is located in Mackinaw City at the Shepler ferry dock. Eventually we plan to upgrade this feature to get different views of the Mackinac Bridge and surrounding area.

Answer:
The Bridge at Mackinac

In the land of Hiawatha,
Where the white man gazed with awe
At a paradise divided
By the straits of Mackinac

Men are dredging, drilling, blasting,
Battling tides around the clock,
Through the depths of icy water,
Driving caissons down to rock.

Fleets of freighters bring their cargoes
From the forges and the kilns;
Stones and steel – ten thousand barge-loads –
From the quarries, mines, and mills.

Now the towers, mounting skyward,
Reach the heights of airy space.
Hear the rivet-hammers ringing,
Joining steel in strength and grace.

High above the swirling currents,
Parabolic strands are strung;
From the cables, packed with power,
Wonder-spans of steel are hung.

Generations dreamed the crossing;
Doubters shook their heads in scorn.
Brave men vowed that they would build it –
From their faith a bridge was born.

There it spans the miles of water,
Speeding millions on their way –
Bridge of vision, hope and courage,
Portal to a brighter day.

Answer:
Bay Windpower and Crystal Flash, both Grand Rapids companies, have constructed two of five wind turbines in Mackinaw City. The two 256 foot wind turbine generators will produce an estimated 4 million kilowatt hours of power annually.

Through an agreement with Consumers Energy, Bay Windpower will provide the first 4 million kilowatt hours of power to customers enrolled in the Consumers Energy Green Power Pilot Program. Energy customers in 68 counties who are interested in purchasing wind power produced at the Mackinaw City site can do so by enrolling in the Consumers Energy Green Power Pilot Program. Details are available through the Consumers Energy web site – www.consumersenergy.com.