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Mackinac Bridge
Other name(s) Mighty Mac or Big Mac
Carries 4 lanes of I-75
Crosses Straits of Mackinac
Locale Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan
Maintained by Mackinac Bridge Authority
Design Suspension bridge
Total length 26,372 feet (8,038 m)
Width 68.6 feet (20.9 m) (total width)[1]
54 feet (16 m) (road width)
38.1 feet (11.6 m) (depth)[1]
Height 522 feet (159 m)
Longest span 3,800 feet (1,158 m)
Vertical clearance 200 feet (61 m)
Clearance below 155 feet (47 m)
AADT 11,600
Opened November 1, 1957
Toll $1.75 per axle for passenger vehicles ($3.50 per car). $3.50 per axle for motor homes. $4.50 per axle for commercial vehicles.[2]
Connects:
Mackinaw City and St. Ignace
Coordinates 45°49′00″N 84°43′40″W / 45.816558333°N 84.72769444°W / 45.816558333; -84.72769444Coordinates: 45°49′00″N 84°43′40″W / 45.816558333°N 84.72769444°W / 45.816558333; -84.72769444

The Mackinac Bridge (pronounced /ˈmækɨnɔː/, approximately mack-in-awe), is a suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac to connect the non-contiguous Upper and Lower peninsulas of the U.S. state of Michigan. Envisioned since the 1880s, the bridge was completed only after many decades of struggles to begin construction. Designed by engineer David B. Steinman, the bridge (familiarly known as "Big Mac" and "Mighty Mac") connects the city of St. Ignace on the north end with the village of Mackinaw City on the south. It is the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western hemisphere.

Contents

Length

The bridge opened on November 1, 1957, ending decades of the two peninsulas being solely linked by ferries. A year later, the bridge was formally dedicated as the world's longest suspension bridge between anchorages. This designation was chosen because the bridge would not be the world's largest using another way of measuring suspension bridges, the length of the center span between the towers; at the time that title belonged to the Golden Gate Bridge, which has a longer center span. By saying "between anchorages", the bridge could be considered longer than the Golden Gate Bridge and also longer than the suspended western section of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. (That bridge has a longer total suspension but is a double bridge with an anchorage in the middle.)

At 8,614 feet (2,626 m), the Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge with two towers between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere.[3] Much longer anchorage-to-anchorage spans have been built in the Eastern Hemisphere, including the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan (12,826 feet (3,909 m)). However, because of the long leadups to the anchorages on the Mackinac, from shoreline to shoreline it is much longer at 5 miles (8.0 km) than the Akashi-Kaikyo (2.4 miles (3.9 km)).

The length of the bridge's main span is 3,800 feet (1,158 m), which makes it the third-longest suspension span in the United States and twelfth longest worldwide.

History

The Algonquin Native Americans called the straits and the surrounding area "Michilimackinac", meaning "the jumping-off place" or "great road of departure". These Native Americans moved around the straits rather than crossing them. The straits were the end of the trail.[4]

As Europeans settled in the area, the straits became an important area for trade and commerce. The clean air, abundant fish, and beautiful views attracted people from all over the area to the straits. Still, the only way to cross was by ferry.

Typically, a fleet of nine ferries could carry as many as 9,000 vehicles per day. Traffic backups sometimes stretched 16 miles (26 km) to Cheboygan, Michigan.[citation needed] Year-round boat service across the straits had been abandoned as impractical because of the cold winters that would often freeze the water across the entire strait. After the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, local residents began to imagine that such a structure could span the straits. In 1884, a store owner in St. Ignace published a newspaper advertisement that included a reprint of an artist's conception of the Brooklyn Bridge with the caption "Proposed bridge across the Straits of Mackinac".

The idea of the bridge was discussed in the Michigan Legislature as early as the 1880s. At the time, the area was becoming a popular tourist destination, including the creation of Mackinac National Park on Mackinac Island in 1875.

Despite the perceived necessity for the bridge, several decades elapsed with no formal plan. In 1920, the Michigan state highway commissioner advocated the construction of a floating tunnel across the straits. At the invitation of the state legislature, C. E. Fowler of New York City put forth a plan for a long series of causeways and bridges across the straits from Cheboygan, 17 miles (27 km) southeast of Mackinaw City, to St. Ignace, using Bois Blanc, Round, and Mackinac Island as intermediate steps.

A Mackinac Island ferry passing in front of the Mackinac Bridge.

In 1923, the state legislature ordered the State Highway Department to establish ferry service across the strait. More and more people used ferries to cross the straits each year, and as they did, momentum to create a bridge grew even stronger. Chase Osborn, a former governor, wrote, "Michigan is unifying itself, and a magnificent new route through Michigan to Lake Superior and the Northwest United States is developing, via the Straits of Mackinac. It cannot continue to grow as it ought with clumsy and inadequate ferries for any portion of the year."[4]

By 1928, the ferry service had become so popular and so expensive to operate that Michigan Governor Fred Green ordered the department to study the feasibility of building a bridge across the strait. The department deemed the idea feasible, estimating the cost at $30 million.

In 1934, the Michigan Legislature created the Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority to explore possible methods of constructing and funding the proposed bridge. The Legislature authorized the Authority to seek financing for the project. In the mid 1930s, the Authority twice attempted to obtain federal funds for the project but was unsuccessful, despite the endorsement of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Nevertheless, between 1936 and 1940, a route was selected for the bridge, and borings were made for a detailed geological study of the route.

The preliminary plans for the bridge featured a 3-lane roadway, a railroad crossing on the underdeck of the span, and a center-anchorage double-suspension bridge configuration similar to the design of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. Because this would have required sinking an anchorage pier in the deepest area of the Straits, the practicality of this design may have been questionable. A concrete causeway, approximately 4,000 feet (1,219 m), extending from the northern shore, was constructed in shallow water from 1939 to 1941. At that time, with funding for the project still uncertain, further work was put on hold because of World War II. The Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority was abolished by the state legislature in 1947, but the same body created a new Mackinac Bridge Authority three years later in 1950. In June 1950, engineers were retained for the project. After a report by the engineers in January 1951, the state legistature authorized the sale of $85 million in bonds for bridge construction on April 30, 1952. However, a weak bond market in 1953 forced a delay of more than a year before the bonds could be issued.

G. Mennen Williams was governor during the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. He began the tradition of the governor leading the Mackinac Bridge Walk across it every Labor Day.[5] U.S. Senator Prentiss M. Brown has been called the "father of the Mackinac Bridge,"[6] and was honored with a special memorial bridge token created by the Mackinac Bridge Authority.[7]

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Engineering and construction

A closer look at the north tower of the bridge

David B. Steinman was appointed as the design engineer in January 1953. By the end of 1953, estimates and contracts had been negotiated, and construction began on May 7, 1954. The American Bridge Division of United States Steel Corporation was awarded a contract of more than $44 million to build the steel superstructure.

Construction, which utilized the 1939-41 causeway, took three and a half years (four summers, no winter construction) at a total cost of 100 million dollars and the lives of five men who worked on the bridge. Despite popular myth none of them are entombed in the Bridge. It opened to traffic on schedule on November 1, 1957, and the ferry service was discontinued on the same day. The Bridge was formally dedicated on June 25, 1958. The bridge officially achieved its 100 millionth crossing exactly forty years after its dedication, on June 25, 1998.

The 50th anniversary of the bridge's opening was celebrated in a ceremony hosted by the Mackinac Bridge Authority at the viewing park adjacent to the St. Ignace causeway on November 1, 2007.

History of bridge design

The design of the Mackinac Bridge was directly influenced by the lessons of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which failed in 1940 because of its instability in high winds. Three years after that disaster, Steinman had published a theoretical analysis of suspension-bridge stability problems, which recommended that future bridge designs include deep stiffening trusses to support the bridge deck and an open-grid roadway to reduce its wind resistance. Both of these features were incorporated into the Mackinac Bridge. The stiffening truss is open to reduce wind resistance. The road deck is shaped as an airfoil to provide lift in a cross wind, and the center two lanes are open grid to allow vertical (upward) air flow, which fairly precisely cancels the lift, making the roadway stable in design in winds up to 150 miles per hour (240 km/h).

Facts and figures

The Mackinac Bridge from the south shore
The Mackinac Bridge at night
Freighter passing under the bridge

The Mackinac Bridge is currently a toll bridge on Interstate 75 (I-75). Prior to the coming of I-75, the bridge carried US Highway 27 (US 27). It is one of only three segments of I-75 that is tolled; the others being the American half of the International Bridge near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Alligator Alley in Florida. The current toll is $3.50 for automobiles and $4.50 per axle for trucks.[2] The Mackinac Bridge Authority has proposed raising the rate to $4 for cars and $5 per axle for trucks to fund a $300 million renovation program, which would include completely replacing the bridge deck.[8]

Every Labor Day, two of the lanes of the bridge are closed to traffic and open to walkers for the Mackinac Bridge Walk.

Painting of the bridge takes seven years, and when painting of the bridge is complete, it begins again.[citation needed]

The bridge celebrated its 150 millionth vehicle crossing on September 6, 2009.[9]

  • Length from cable bent pier to cable bent pier: 7,400 feet (2,256 m).
  • Total width of the roadway: 54 feet (16.5 m)
Two outside lanes: 12 feet (3.7 m) wide each
Two inside lanes: 11 feet (3.4 m) wide each
Center mall: 2 feet (0.61 m)
Catwalk, curb and rail width: 3 feet (0.91 m) on each side
  • Width of stiffening truss in the suspended span: 68 feet (20.7 m).
  • Depth of stiffening truss: 38.1 feet (11.6 m)[1]
  • Height of the roadway at mid-span: approximately 200 feet (61 m) above water level.
  • Vertical clearance at normal temperature:
155 feet (47 m) at the center of the main suspension span.
135 feet (41 m) at the boundaries of the 3,000 feet (914 m) wide navigation channel.
  • Construction cost: $99.8 million (1957 USD; adjusted for inflation, approximately $732 million, 2007 USD)
  • Height of towers above water: 552 feet (168 m)
  • Max. depth of towers below water: 210 feet (64 m)
  • Total length of wire in main cables: 42,000 miles (68,000 km).
  • Total vehicle crossings, 2005: 4,236,491 (average 11,608 per day)
  • Speed limit: 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) for passenger cars, 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) for heavy trucks. Heavy trucks are also required to leave 500 feet (150 m) spacing ahead.

Work and major accident fatalities

The Mackinac Bridge during a thunderstorm

Five workers died during the construction of the bridge.[10]

  • Twenty-eight-year old Jack Baker and Robert Koppen died in a catwalk collapse near the north tower on June 6, 1956. Koppen's body was never recovered. For both it was their first day on the job.
  • Diver Frank Pepper ascended too quickly from a depth of 140 feet (43 m) on September 10, 1957. Despite being rushed to a decompression chamber, the forty-six-year old died from the bends.
  • Twenty-six-year old James LeSarge lost his balance on October 10, 1954, and fell into a caisson. He fell 40 feet (12 m) and likely died of head injuries caused by impact with the criss-crossing steel beams inside the caisson.
  • Albert Abbott died on October 25, 1954. The forty-year old fell four feet (1.2 m) into the water while working on an 18 inch (46 cm) wide beam. Witnesses speculate he suffered a heart attack.

All five men are memorialized on a plaque near the bridge's southern end. Contrary to folklore, no bodies are embedded in the concrete.[11][12]

One worker has died since the bridge was completed.

  • Daniel Doyle fell 60 to 70 feet (18 to 21 m) from a scaffolding on August 7, 1997. He survived the fall but fell victim to the 50 °F (10 °C) water temperature. His body was recovered the next day in 95 feet (29 m) of water.

Two vehicles have fallen off the bridge.

  • Leslie Anne Pluhar died in 1989 when her 1987 Yugo plunged over the 36 inches (91 cm) high railing. A combination of high winds and excessive speed was initially blamed.[13] Later investigation showed the driver had stopped her car over the open steel grating on the the bridge's span. A gust of wind through the grating blew her vehicle off the bridge.[14]
  • In March 1997, a 1996 Ford Bronco went over the edge. It was later determined to be a suicide by driver Richard Alan Daraban.[15]

Crossing the bridge

The Mackinac Bridge Authority has a Drivers Assistance Program that provides drivers for those uncomfortable with driving across the Mackinac Bridge. Those interested can arrange, either by phone or with the toll collector, to have their cars or motorcycles driven to the other end. There is no additional fee for this service. Bicycles are not permitted on the bridge; for a fee the Authority will transport bicyclists and their vehicles across the bridge.[12]

Travelers across the Mackinac Bridge can listen to an AM radio broadcast that recounts the history of the bridge and provides updates on driving conditions.[16]

Bridge Walk

The Mackinac Bridge Walk

The Mackinac Bridge Walk has been held each year since 1958, when it was led by Governor G. Mennen Williams. The first walk was held during the Bridge's Dedication Ceremony held in late June, and has been held on Labor Day since 1959. Thousands of people, traditionally led by the Governor of Michigan, cross the five-mile (8 km) span on foot from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City since 1964. Before that, people walked the Bridge from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace.

Tourism

During summers, the Upper Peninsula and the Mackinac Bridge have become a major tourist destination.[17] In addition to visitors to Mackinac Island, the bridge has attracted interest from a diverse group of tourists including bridge enthusiasts, bird-watchers, and photographers.[18]

In media

A feature-length documentary entitled "Building the Mighty Mac" was produced by Hollywood filmmaker Mark Howell in 1997 and has been shown over the PBS network. The program features numerous interviews with the key people who built the structure and includes restored 16 mm color footage of the bridge's construction.[citation needed]

The bridge and its maintenance crew were featured in an episode of the Discovery Channel TV show Dirty Jobs on August 7, 2007. Host Mike Rowe and crew spent several days filming the episode in May 2007.[19]

The history and building of the bridge was featured in an episode of the History Channel TV show Modern Marvels.[20]

On July 19, 2007, the Detroit Science Center unveiled an 80-foot-long, 19-foot-tall scale model of the Mackinac Bridge. The exhibit was part of the state’s 50th anniversary celebration of the bridge that opened to traffic Nov. 1, 1957.[21] Sherwin-Williams supplied authentic Mackinac Bridge-colored paint for the project.[22]

2008 panorama of the bridge from Mackinac Island

In print

On June 25, 1958, the US Postal Service (USPS) released a 3¢ stamp featuring the recently completed bridge. A second stamp is being released by the USPS. This is a new $4.90 priority mail stamp featuring the bridge. MDOT and the Bridge Authority will unveil the stamp on February 3, 2010, featuring a "seagull’s-eye view" of the landmark.[23] MDOT also featured the bridge on the cover of the 2007 state highway map.[24]

Further reading

  • Brown, Prentiss M. (1956) The Mackinac Bridge Story. (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press).
  • November 1, 2007-March 15, 2008: "Before the Bridge: Linking Michigan's Peninsulas Before the Mackinac Bridge", exhibit at the Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.[25]
  • "Mackinac Bridge" in Civil Engineering, May 1956.
  • "The Mighty Mac at 50", Michigan History Magazine (Special edition), Volume 19, No. 4, July-August, 2007.
  • Ratigan, William. The Long Crossing. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1959.
  • Ratigan, WIlliam. Straits of Mackinac. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1957.
  • Rubin, Lawrence A., (1986) Mighty Mac: The Official Picture History of the Mackinac Bridge Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814310984; ISBN 9780814318171.
  • Rubin, Lawrence A., (1985) Bridging the Straits Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0814317898.
  • Steinman, David B. (1957) Miracle Bridge at Mackinac. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans).

References

  1. ^ a b c Mackinac Straits Bridge at Structurae. Retrieved on January 30, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Mackinac Bridge Fare Schedule". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2010. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/fare-schedule-9/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ "About the Bridge". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2010. http://mackinacbridge.org/about-the-bridge-8/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Sigmund, Pete (February 7, 2007). "The Mighty Mac: A Sublime Engineering Feat". Construction Equipment Guide. http://www.cegltd.com/story.asp?story=8153. Retrieved May 15, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Michigan Governor Gerhard Mennen Williams". National Governors Association. 2004. http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.29fab9fb4add37305ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=9dca49bc0a733010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Prentiss M. Brown, Father of the Mackinac Bridge". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2010. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/prentiss-m.-brown-41/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Mackinac Bridge commemorative token gift packs". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2010. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/token-order-form-21/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Mackinac Bridge authority proposes raising tolls to pay for renovations". Detroit Free Press. November 7, 2007. http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200771107060. 
  9. ^ Mackinac Bridge Authority (September 7, 2009). "150 millionth vehicle crosses Mackinac Bridge". Press release. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/index.php?action=archived&artid=192. 
  10. ^ "In Memory of". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2010. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/in-memory-of-45/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  11. ^ Michigan History Magazine July/August 2007
  12. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2008. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/faq-17/Bridge+services/. Retrieved February 15, 2008. 
  13. ^ Zacharias, Pat (June 6, 2000). "The breathtaking Mackinac Bridge". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080306053238rn_1/info.detnews.com/redesign/history/story/historytemplate.cfm?id=156&CFID=10267469&CFTOKEN=47093057. Retrieved February 15, 2008. 
  14. ^ David Propson (2004-10-14). "How to Build a Better Bridge". New York Sun. http://www.nysun.com/article/3232. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  15. ^ Daraban v. State of Michigan, 223659 (State of Michigan Court of Appeals March 15, 2002).
  16. ^ "WNHC787 AM 530 St. Ignace / AM 1610 Mackinaw City". http://www.michiguide.com/dials/amtis/wnhc787.html. Retrieved September 20, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Mackinac Bridge Crossings". Michigan Tourism Business (Michigan State University) 3 (1). February 24, 2004. http://www.imakenews.com/tourism/e_article000226672.cfm. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Photo Gallery". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2010. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/photo-gallery-10/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Crew from "Dirty Jobs" in Northern Michigan". WWTV-TV 9&10. May 23, 2007. http://www.9and10news.com/category/story/?id=117043. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  20. ^ ""Modern Marvels" Mackinac Bridge (2003)". Internet Movie Database. 2010. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0905001/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  21. ^ What’s Happening in Detroit.
  22. ^ "Detroit Science Center To Open 'Mini Mac' Exhibit". PRNewswire. June 19, 2007. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/detroit-science-center-to-open-mini-mac-exhibit-58160002.html. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Mighty Mac stamp to be unveiled". Detroit Free Press. January 29, 2010. http://freep.com/article/20100129/NEWS06/100129013/1320/Mighty-Mac-stamp-to-be-unveiled. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  24. ^ Michigan Department of Transportation. Official Department of Transportation Map [map], 1 in.:15 mi/1 cm:9 km. (2007)
  25. ^ Bay City Times on Bridge exhibit.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Mackinaw City article)

From Wikitravel

Mackinaw City is a small city in the Mackinac Area at the tip of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It's the southern terminus of the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge.

Get in

By car

From the Upper Peninsula, you have to cross the Mackinac Bridge, via St. Ignace. The "Mighty Mac" (a certain burger vendor objects to another nickname) is 5 miles long and at its highest, 200 feet from the surface of the Straits of Mackinac. The toll is $1.25/axle for passenger vehicles (that's $2.50 for a car or motorcycle), $2/axle for motor homes, and $3/axle for anything else. The drive can be a little intimidating, but only two vehicles have gone over the edge in its half century of use: one a lightweight Yugo caught by very high winds, the other an SUV in a suicide; both were speeding. If you're uncomfortable driving across, a bridge authority employee will happily drive your vehicle for you (including motorcycles--they love Harleys). Just ask the toll collector. The bridge closes to traffic when the winds exceed 65mph, but is otherwise open all the time.

The car ferry service that connected the two peninsulas before the Bridge was built is no longer available.

By other means

Although pedestrians, bicycles, and snowmobiles are not permitted on the Mackinac Bridge, the bridge authority will take you across, for $2 per person and per bicycle, or (8AM-8PM only) $10 for each snowmobile and rider.

Get around

This could be interesting, if you somehow got to Mackinaw City without your own vehicle your options are really limited as there is no public transportation. Of course, the town is quite small, and pretty much all tourist attractions are within walking distance.

  • The Mackinac Bridge[1] isn't just a way to get to and from the Upper Peninsula; it's a sight to behold. Envisioned since the late 19th century, it was finally begun in the 1950s and completed in 1957. The two towers are visible from almost any high ground in the area, and watching the illumination of the bridge's lights is a nightly ritual akin to watching the sun set. Despite its size, the bridge was never record-breaking since suspension bridges are usually measured from tower to tower (the suspended center span) and the record belonged at the time to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. For that reason, the bridge was formally dedicated as "the world's longest suspension bridge between anchorages", record it lost to other bridges in Asia, hence the revised title of "the world's longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere". The bridge has now the 10th longest center span in the world and the 3rd in the United States.
  • This is the ideal jump off point for trips throughout not only the tip of the Lower Penninsula but a large area of the Upper Peninsula is within an hour or two drive time from Mackinaw City. There are shops spread all around town that for the most part offer the standard tourist fare, nothing too extravagant.
  • We can't let the fudge shop go without being mentioned as this seems to be the Straits area's largest export. Partake of the free samples and when you find the one that you like buy it. To say that one is better than the other is going to lead to countless and eventually futile edits so lets leave it at that.
  • Both in town and and just outside town there are historical features waiting to be explored, from Fort Michilimackinac to the old Mackinac Lighthouse on to Old Mill Creek will take you the better part of the day.
  • Day two would be the day for the trip to Mackinac Island via one of the many transit companies available to you. More history waits for you there all over Mackinac Island. Also once again there is fudge to be had, the fudge shops there realized some years ago that by installing exhaust fans over the front door to the shop they could entice more prospective customers into the shop. Be warned that since the primary mode of transport for goods and people on Mackinac Island is the horse there is usually also a far amount of "spent horse fuel" about so this can indeed make an interesting combination of odors. The island does maintain a fleet of hardy souls that follow behind the horses to try and keep the streets clean. Given the number of horses and the number of scoopers they do an admirable job. You can walk, bicycle or take a carriage tour of the island to get around. Those that are used to horseback riding can visit a livery and rent a carriage if you wish. History abounds as they say, enjoy the day and watch were you step.
  • On day three it's time to go to the Upper Peninsula to so some sight seeing. The Soo Locks are about one hour past the bridge on I-75. The city is actually called Sault Sainte Marie, and to confuse things just a bit there is one on each side of the border there in the U.S. and Canada. The Soo Locks enable the shipping that transits the Great Lakes access to Lake Superior when travleing in the upbound direction and the materials from the shipping ports of Lake Superior access to the rest of the world without being off loaded at the St. Marys River where the elevation between Lake Superior and Lake Huron change. Stop at the locks and what the ships go by, to those of you from elsewhere in the world they are ships, you will find that most native born Michigan residents call them "boats" and the ocean going vessels plying the lakes are "salties". Just as a fun fact a "saltie" is required to take on a lake pilot when entering the Great Lakes. Head west from the Soo over to Whitefish Bay and take in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum there and amble to Taquamenon Falls to finish the day. A stop in Newberry on the way back to Mackinaw City for dinner and then back to your base in Mackinaw City.
  • Lets face it by day 4 you need a vacation. You may have a hotel with a pool or one on the beach, kick back and take it easy. If no beach or pool Mackinaw City does have a Municipal Beach, take Central Avenue west out of town make one left turn and if you don't stop you will end up in the water. Continue along the lake and it will take you to Wilderness State Park one of the most popular in the state. There are beaches there along with hiking trails if you still want to do some discovery. A daily or annual permit is required to enter the park, a few dollars for a day or at this time $24 annually.
  • There is a water park that was just recently built a year or two ago in Mackinaw City if you prefer more of the creature comforts.

Buy

Things to buy abound in the area. As you will see it is the usual assortment of imported souvenirs made outside of the U.S. with a "souvenir of:" stamp on it.

Eat

Dining of all kinds are available from peanut butter and jelly to surf and turf. Prices range from moderate to expensive. You will find everything from a small diner just west of I-75 on Central Avenue to fine dining with a fairly decent wine list.

  • The Mackinaw Pastie Company
  • Big Stone Bay Fishery just south of town on Stimson Road. Fresh lake perch, this place ships fresh fish to dining establishments throughout the U.S.
  • There are probably well over one hundred hotels, motels and combinations of motels with cabins in the immediate Mackinaw City area. As rule closer to the Mackinaw Bridge or Lakes Michigan or Huron is more costly. The farther from town the less costly and fewer amenities. The farther away from peak season the less costly.
  • Best Western Dockside Waterfront Inn, 505 S Huron Street, +1 231 436-5001, Fax: +1 231 436-5933, [2].
  • Best Western Thunderbird Inn, 146 Old US 31, +1 231 436-5433, Fax: +1 231 436-7212, [3].
  • Holiday Inn Express, 364 Louvingney, +1 231 436-7100, [4].
  • For those of you that enjoy camping there are quite a few private campgrounds in the area as well as one of Michigan's most popular state parks.
  • At well over 8,000 acres with over 200 campsites Wilderness State Park has been one of the most popular parks in the state for many years. They offer camping for everything fromn pup tents to motor home in one of three campgrounds East or West Lakeshore or the Pines campgrounds. There are hiking trails that take you through a number of areas in the park.
  • There is another state park just over the bridge, Straits State Park and a couple of more South of the Straits in the Cheboygan area.
  • Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping [5] has views of Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island on one mile of shoreline on the Straits of Mackinac with 600 camp sites for everything from large RV's down to small tents. Beautiful new summer lakefront cabin and cottage rentals situated over 200 acres.
Routes through Mackinaw City
St. IgnaceMackinac Bridge  N noframe S  Bay City
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Simple English

Mackinac Bridge
Other name(s) Mighty Mac or Big Mac
Carries 4 lanes of I-75
Crosses Straits of Mackinac
Locale Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan
Maintained by Mackinac Bridge Authority
Design Suspension bridge
Total length 26,372 feet (8,038 m)
Width 68.6 feet (20.9 m) (total width)[1]
54 feet (16 m) (road width)
38.1 feet (11.6 m) (depth)[1]
Height 552 feet (168 m)
Longest span 3,800 feet (1,158 m)
Vertical clearance 200 feet (61 m)
Clearance below 155 feet (47 m)
AADT 11,600
Opened November 1, 1957
Toll $1.75 per axle for passenger vehicles ($3.50 per car). $3.50 per axle for motor homes. $4.50 per axle for commercial vehicles.[2]
Connects:
Mackinaw City and St. Ignace
[[Image: |180px|alt=| ]]
Coordinates 45°49′00″N 84°43′40″W / 45.816558333°N 84.72769444°W / 45.816558333; -84.72769444Coordinates: 45°49′00″N 84°43′40″W / 45.816558333°N 84.72769444°W / 45.816558333; -84.72769444

The Mackinac Bridge is a 5-mile-long (8-km.-long) bridge that carries a four-lane interstate highway, Interstate 75. It was built by the U.S. state of Michigan and connects that state's Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula together.

The Mackinac Bridge passes over a strait of water that connects two Great Lakes, Lake Michigan (to the west of the bridge) and Lake Huron (to the east).

At the center of the Mackinac Bridge is a long suspension span, in which the bridge, made of steel and concrete, hangs from wires that run down from two huge, curved cables.

The government agency that runs the Mackinac Bridge charges motor vehicles a toll to drive over it. In 2007, the toll was $2.50 for a passenger car.

The government hangs colored lights from the big cable, and turns them on at night so that the bridge can be seen from many miles away.

The Mackinac Bridge was opened in 1957, and this started a major economic boom in northern Michigan as tourists drove from all over North America to see the bridge, the Great Lakes, and the northern forests.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mackinac Straits Bridge in the Structurae database. Retrieved on January 30, 2010.
  2. "Mackinac Bridge Fare Schedule". Mackinac Bridge Authority. 2010. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/fare-schedule-9/. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 

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