Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

History
When did the Mackinac Bridge open?
Answer:
The bridge was opened to traffic on November 1, 1957.
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Why did they build the Mackinac Bridge?
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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Is it true that workers fell into the concrete supports and could not be retrieved?
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.
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How many people died during the construction of the Mackinac Bridge?
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".
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How much did it cost to build the Mackinac Bridge?
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.
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