Mackinac Bridge to be closed to most vehicle traffic during 2017 annual Bridge Walk
MACKINAC BRIDGE, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU)-- For the first time, the Mackinac Bridge will be closed to most vehicle traffic during the 2017 Labor Day Bridge Walk.
The decision was made citing safety and security recommendations by the Michigan State Police, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA).
Unlike years before, the MBA says only buses will be used to transport walkers to the starting point for the walk and emergency service vehicles will be allowed on the bridge during the event. All other vehicle traffic will be stopped from 6:30 a.m. to noon on Labor Day while event participants are on the bridge.
"This was not a decision the Mackinac Bridge Authority makes lightly. We understand this change will be an inconvenience to our customers traveling Labor Day morning," said MBA Chairman William Gnodtke. "Our board felt this choice strikes the best balance of keeping this 60-year tradition going for the tens of thousands of visitors who walk the bridge each year and keeping them safe."
"While there are no known threats to this annual tradition, recent terrorist-related attacks carried out around the globe serve as a reminder to remain alert and vigilant," stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of MSP and state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. "Since 9/11, Michigan has made great strides enhancing the state's homeland security framework to protect critical infrastructure, key resources and our residents."
Each year, the MBA says 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. Roughly 9,000 vehicles cross the bridge during the event hours, with many of them carrying participants in the walk.
The eastern lanes of the bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic before the walk starts, and the western two lanes will be open to buses transporting walkers between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, as well as emergency vehicles.
The annual Bridge Walk 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. Snyder at 6:55 a.m. Participants will then begin to walk across the bridge at 7 a.m.
No walkers will be allowed to begin the walk after 10 a.m. since it takes roughly an hour and a half to complete the crossing. Buses will begin picking up any remaining walkers on the bridge at 11:30 a.m. to ensure the bridge is clear and can reopen to traffic promptly at noon.
Northbound I-75 traffic will be stopped at Exit 337 on the south end of the bridge; southbound US-2 and I-75 traffic will be stopped at Exit 344 on the north side.
The MBA intends to alert motorists of this change through media releases, postings on the MBA website (www.mackinacbridge.org), messages on the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) dynamic message sign system, the Mi Drive travel information website (www.michigan.gov/drive), and notifications to customers at the bridge. The MBA will work with MSP to help inform the public and direct traffic the day of the event.