Mechanics at the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) have a fleet of vehicles they maintain year-round. When they come to work on Labor Day, they’re hoping they don’t have to work on a single car.
During the Annual Bridge Walk when the bridge is closed to public traffic, two MBA mechanics will be patrolling both sides of the bridge to assist any motorists experiencing car trouble: flat tires, empty gas tanks, overheated engines, or dead batteries. It’s just one of the ways the Authority is working to mitigate the effects of closing the bridge to traffic from 6:30 a.m. to noon that day.
“The Authority, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and other state agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources and Secretary of State, have been working hard to get the news of the planned closure so travelers can modify their plans,” said MBA Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney. “For those we may not have reached, we’ve got ways to help with the wait.”
In addition to the courtesy patrol mechanics, the MBA is arranging for portable toilets to be placed along US-2 in the Upper Peninsula for motorists waiting to cross and refreshment stations along the route as well. Michigan State Police (MSP) will have additional troopers in the area during the bridge walk to regulate traffic, and MDOT is providing traffic control equipment.
The MBA and MDOT will continue with notices on their websites through the bridge walk at www.mackinacbridge.org, www.michigan.gov/mdot, and Mi Drive, MDOT’s travel information site, www.michigan.gov/drive. Daily messages are shared on MDOT’s Twitter and Facebook pages – www.twitter.com/MichiganDOT and www.facebook.com/MichiganDOT – and the department’s dynamic message sign (DMS) system statewide.
Unlike in prior years, only buses used to transport walkers to the starting point for the walk and emergency services vehicles will be allowed on the bridge during the event. All other vehicle traffic will be stopped from 6:30 a.m. to noon while event participants are on the bridge. The Authority made the decision during a special board meeting May 16, citing safety and security recommendations by the MSP and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Every year, between 30,000 and 60,000 people from several states and countries come to the Mackinac Bridge for the Annual Bridge Walk, which has taken place since 1958, the year after the bridge opened to traffic. The event will begin at 6:40 a.m. with the start of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Jog, followed by a greeting from Gov. Rick Snyder at 6:55 a.m. Walkers will begin across the bridge at 7 a.m.