The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge across the Mackinac Straits. It connects the upper and lower peninsulas of the US state of Michigan.
It has long been desired by the residents of Michigan. Before it was built, one had to travel through the states of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin to reach the other peninsula. Or you used a ferry, but this did not run in bad weather conditions.
In 1957 the time had finally come, with a length of 8,038 kilometers, the Mackinac Bridge was opened and has since been one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. She is also known by the nickname ” Mighty Mac ” or ” Big Mac “.
The four-lane Interstate 75 runs over the Mackinac Bridge. The bridge was the first direct fixed connection between the main area of the US state of Michigan and its upper peninsula was created.
It connects the small towns of Mackinaw City to the south and Saint Ignace to the north. The Great Lakes Circle Tour, a designated scenic route connecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, passes over Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge.
Since the 1880s there has been discussion about building a bridge to connect the two peninsulas. But it would be a long time before the bridge was built to the design of engineer David B. Steinman. The bridge was only completed in 1957. Before that, the islands were connected by ferries for over two decades.
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Facts and figures
The bridge was completed on November 1, 1957. A year later, the bridge was officially recognized as one of the “world’s longest suspension bridges between anchorages”. It has been compared to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge .
In total, the bridge is 8,038 kilometers long with a span of 1,158 meters in the main span and 549 m (1800 ft) each in the two side spans. This makes it the third longest suspension bridge in the United States and the 16th longest suspension bridge in the world. The two pylons are 168.25 meters (552 ft) above sea level. At 47 m (155 ft) total height, it is taller than the Ambassador Bridge.
US Highway 27 (US 27) leads to the bridge, after which Interstate 75 (I-75) begins, which leads over the bridge. If you want to drive over the bridge, you have to pay a toll. The renovation of the bridge is financed from the toll fee. Bicycles and pedestrians are not allowed on the bridge. There is a special transportation service for them to get across the bridge in Michigan.
Tip: For travelers across the bridge, there is a special radio station that tells the story of the Mackinac Bridge.
History of the Mackinac Bridge
Originally the Algonquian peoples lived here, who called this region Michilimackinac. This is where the current name Mackinac Island came from. When Europeans came to this area in the 17th century, this strait between the two peninsulas became an important transportation hub. For this purpose, a ferry service across the Mackinac Strait was started in the early 1880s.
In addition, this region attracted more and more tourists who wanted to visit Mackinac Island with Fort Mackinac in Mackinac National Park.
After the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York in 1883, a similar construction was discussed that would connect the two peninsulas.
In 1884 a shopkeeper in St. Ignace published a newspaper advertisement showing a proposed bridge across the Mackinac Straits .
At a meeting in July 1888, the manager of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel proposed building a bridge across the strait, similar to the Firth of Forth in Scotland. But it would be years before construction of the bridge began. In between there were further considerations as to whether it would not be better to build a floating tunnel across the strait. But the idea was quickly abandoned.
In 1923, Parliament mandated the State Highway Department to build a permanent ferry service, but this became very expensive and the decision to build the bridge was made shortly thereafter.
In 1934, the Michigan legislature created the Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority, which was responsible for constructing and funding the proposed bridge. In the mid-1930s, the agency twice unsuccessfully tried to get funds from Washington, despite having a concession from then-US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Between 1936 and 1940, despite financial insecurity, the drilling for the bridge was carried out.
Preliminary plans for the bridge were a 3-lane roadway and level crossing on the lower deck, similar to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco.
Funding for the project remained uncertain and World War II broke out, putting development of the bridge on hold for the time being. Finally in June 1950 it went on. On April 30, 1952, bridge construction was pushed ahead again with the sale of 85 million US dollar bonds. But a weak stock market in 1953 delayed construction again.
David B. Steinman was hired to develop the project in January 1953. Construction finally began on May 7, 1954 and lasted two and a half years. Punctually on November 1, 1957, the newly built bridge was opened to traffic. The ceremonial inauguration took place from June 25th to 28th, 1958.
During the summer, the Upper Peninsula and the Mackinac Bridge has become a major tourist attraction in Michigan. The bridge is often photographed or birds are watched from here. Many tourists also take part in the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk.
The Mackinac Bridge Walk has taken place every year since 1958. Thousands of people are traditionally led by the Governor of Michigan across the five-mile (8 km) long bridge from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City. The Mackinac Bridge Walk is the only day of the year that pedestrians are allowed to walk across the bridge.
Address of the Mackinac Bridge landmark in Michigan
St Ignace, MI 49781