The Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) is remembering former Chief Engineer Max Coburn, who died May 5 at the age of 84, and his legacy of stewardship at the bridge.
Coburn was the chief engineer for the MBA from July 1984 through March 1992, overseeing maintenance, design and construction work on the bridge. Prior to that, he was a longtime project engineer for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
A native of St. Ignace, Coburn worked on the approaches to the Mackinac Bridge when it was being built.
Current Chief Engineer Kim Nowack, who has been named the interim executive secretary of the authority, said that while she didn’t work with Coburn, she remembers him attending talks about the Mackinac Bridge in the Petoskey area, as well as MBA events.
“We’ll miss seeing him,” Nowack said. “We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his years of service, making sure the bridge was in excellent condition as he passed it on to future generations of caretakers.”
Colleagues of Coburn’s from the engineering firm Parsons, longtime engineering inspectors of the bridge and the company that acquired Mackinac Bridge designer David B. Steinman’s partnership firm, had warm recollections of him.
“He was a great leader and he mentored me on more than one occasion,” said Parsons National Bridge Practice Lead Tom Spoth. “He served MDOT and the MBA with honor.”
Parsons Construction Inspector/Bridge Inspector Ed Lamplugh had similar feelings.
“He was a great mentor to us young engineers (at that time) for us to become the engineers we are today,” Lamplugh said. “The MBA and those of us at Steinman/Parsons who had the pleasure of knowing and working with Max have lost a good and dear friend.”
Funeral services for Coburn will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 10, at Zion Lutheran Church in St. Ignace, preceded by visitation beginning at 9 a.m.