If you’ve ever participated in the Labor Day tradition of walking the Mackinaw Bridge, you already know what a thrill it is to be way – way – up over the Straits of Mackinaw.
If you have not walked the bridge, this might be the year you decide to give it the ‘good ole’ college try’. Superior Media has been there for the last several years, and I can wholeheartedly recommend to our readers that it is worth the price of admission. Which is free incidentally. The Mackinaw Bridge Authority has announced changes to the way the bridge walk will unfold this year.
The most significant change is that the walk will now start from both ends of the bridge, eliminating the need for buses transporting participants from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace.
“The biggest issue we faced last year was having to turn people away when we could not transport everyone to the starting point in time to participate,” said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA). “Starting the walk from both ends of the bridge will ensure maximum participation, as no walkers will need to wait for a bus to begin the event or return to their vehicles.”
The bridge will be closed to public traffic during the 2018 walk, from 6:30 a.m. to noon on Labor Day, Sept. 3. For those looking to cross the bridge that day, travelers should be aware that if they arrive in the Straits area during the walk they’ll need to wait until after noon to proceed. Northbound I-75 will be closed at Exit 337, and southbound I-75 and US-2 will be closed at Exit 344.
The walk begins at 7 a.m. No one will be permitted to start the walk after 11:30 a.m., so the bridge can reopen promptly at noon.
Starting the walk from both ends of the bridge also offers new options for participants, outlined in a video posted on the MBA website at www.mackinacbridge.org/walk. Walkers essentially have three main options:
- Starting from either end of the bridge and walking toward the center, turning around at the midpoint and returning to the city they started from. The turnaround points will move toward the ends of the bridge beginning at 10 a.m., but walkers can walk at least a portion of the bridge as long as they start by 11:30 a.m.
- Walking the entire length of the bridge, starting from either end. Those who choose this option must reach the midpoint before 10 a.m., or they will be turned back. Anyone who walks the entire bridge must arrange their own transportation back to the side from which they started once the bridge reopens to public traffic at noon.
- Walking the entire length of the bridge, starting from either end, and then turning around and walking back to the side from which they started. In this option, walkers will need to cross the midpoint on their return trip by 10 a.m., or they will be turned back and need to find their own transportation back across the bridge after it reopens at noon.
The MBA decided to close the bridge to public traffic during the walk beginning in 2017, based on recommendations from the Michigan State Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Emergency vehicles will still be permitted to cross the bridge, but no public vehicles until the walk concludes and participants are off the bridge.
For the second time, Mackinac County 911/Emergency Management and the Mackinac Bridge Authority are offering text updates for this year’s Annual Bridge Walk.
Mackinac County 911, using its RAVE Alert System, will send updates and information from the MBA to users’ cell phones now through Labor Day. Alerts will focus on event schedule reminders, traffic notifications, weather updates, and emergency notifications.
“The bridge walk has some significant changes again, so we want to make sure we can reach as many people as possible with information about the event,” said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the MBA. “We really appreciate Mackinac County 911/Emergency Management’s willingness to make this system available for notifications again this year.”
There is no cost to receive these updates, aside from any texting fees from the participant’s mobile coverage plan. The system will automatically shut down on Sept. 4.
To opt in to this text alert system:
1. Text “MBW2018” to 67283
2. Users will receive a reply “Welcome to the Mackinac Bridge Walk 2018 text alerting system,” verifying participation in the text alerting system for the event.
3. Users can opt out by sending a reply “STOP MBW2018” if they no longer wish to receive text messages/alerts. Messages will automatically stop on Sept. 4.
To read highlights from 2017 – The 60th Annual Mackinaw Bridge Walk, go here: