As many as 60,000 people are expected to converge in the Straits of Mackinac Monday, September 4th to take part in the 60th Annual Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk. As a safety precaution, the Mackinac Bridge Authority will close the bridge to automobile traffic between 6:30 a.m. and noon that day—only authorized buses transporting walkers and emergency vehicles will be permitted on the bridge during that time.
This is the first year that the five-mile Mackinac Bridge itself will be closed to vehicles during the walk, which begins at sunrise at 7 a.m. in St. Ignace. Participants must board an official shuttle bus by 10 a.m. in order to complete the walk by noon.
Michigan State Police (MSP) are also planning some highway and ramp closures along Interstate 75 and US-2 to reduce traffic flow in the Straits area that morning.
MSP has contingency plans for traffic issues on Monday morning while the Mackinac Bridge is closed. Gaylord State Police Post Commander, 1st Lt. Mark Harris says that the process of directing traffic during the Bridge Walk is going to be an “ongoing, fluid situation.” Officials will strategize about how best to direct traffic throughout the day. “Obviously, the intent is to minimize motorists being stranded while the bridge is closed.” He has provided the following details to be shared with the public:
- Due to the closing of the Mackinac Bridge between 6:30 a.m. and noon, there will be a closure of Northbound I-75 at Exit 337 on the south end of the bridge, and a closure of southbound US-2 and I-75 at Exit 344 in the Upper Peninsula. This closure has been advertised for a couple of months now.
- MSP troopers will be deployed at various traffic points in the region to monitor traffic flow and assist in re-routing motorists as much as possible. MSP Aviation assets will also be able to monitor traffic conditions from the sky.
- Travelers should assume that access to I-75 north of Gaylord may be restricted during the time of the bridge closure, as we want to limit, to the extent we can, the number of motorists stranded on the expressway during the bridge closure.
- If traffic conditions warrant, additional closures of I-75 further south of Indian River will occur; however, discretion will be used, as we recognize there will be motorists traveling I-75 between Gaylord and Indian River, and we want them to be able to get to their destinations. These closures will be a fluid process based on traffic conditions.
- We are encouraging travelers in northern Michigan to plan ahead and account for these road closures.
- All actions taken will be in the best interest of public safety and we’ll be working in cooperation with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)to have as minimal effect on traffic flow as possible.
- It should be expected that traffic flow in northern Michigan will be impacted to some degree due to the morning’s bridge closure. Our best advice for motorists planning to travel these impacted roads is to travel prior to 6:30 a.m. on Labor Day or to delay travel until the afternoon.
In preparation for the closure, 150 portable toilets will be placed every quarter mile along this stretch of US-2 which runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline. MBA will also offer water and snack stations for motorists waiting for the bridge to reopen.
Additionally, two MBA mechanics will be patrolling on both sides of the bridge to help anyone who might be having vehicle problems during the delay.
Text Alerts Available for Mackinac Bridge Annual Walk
With the assistance of Mackinac County 911/Emergency Management, you can sign up now for text updates during this year’s Labor Day 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.
“With the changes taking place during this year’s walk, we’re trying to reach as many travelers and bridge walk participants as possible,” 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 on this event.”
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 September 5th
To opt in to this text alert system:
- Text “mackinacbridgewalk2017” to 67283
- Users will receive a reply “Welcome to the Mackinac Bridge Walk 2017 text alerting system,” verifying participation in the text alerting system for the event.
- Users can opt out by sending a reply “STOP mackinacbridgewalk2017” if they no longer wish to receive text messages/alerts. Messages will automatically stop on Sept. 5.
2017 Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk Details:
- NEW FOR 2017: Only official buses transporting walkers and emergency vehicles will be permitted on the Mackinac Bridge between 6:30am and Noon. As a safety precaution, the bridge will be closed to all other traffic during this time.
- The Mackinac Bridge Walk begins at 7am. People catching a bus from Mackinaw City to go north and begin the walk should arrive early. The last bus leaving Mackinaw City for people wanting to start the walk will be at 10 a.m. Lines may be long and there will be no extension of this deadline.
- Although the walk can be completed in about an hour, the typical walk will take about 2 hours. No running or jogging is permitted.
- A fleet of official shuttle buses takes the majority of the walkers from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. Other walkers use the buses to return to the UP. There is no fee to walk the bridge, but there is a $5 charge for the bus. The buses run from the Old State Dock in Mackinaw City from 5:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
- Baby strollers and wheelchairs are allowed on the bridge during the walk. The ONLY animals permitted are working service dogs.
- The following are NOT permitted on the bridge during the walk: smoking, signs, banners, umbrellas, bicycles, roller skates, skateboards, wagons and other similar devices.
- There are no rest rooms on the bridge, but there are huge banks of portable toilets at both ends.
- Upon reaching Mackinaw City, walkers are awarded a numbered “Certificate of Completion.” Official buses shuttle walkers back to St. Ignace.
For information about the history of the Mackinac Bridge (including some interesting facts and figures about its size and construction, check out the official website of the Mackinac Bridge Authority.
For lodging reservations for Labor Day weekend, or throughout the fall season, visit MackinawCity.com/stay/.