cross Mackinac Bridge

The cost of crossing the Mackinac Bridge/amount of toll is $2 per axle for the passenger cars ($4 for dual axle passenger cars) and $5 per axle for all other types of vehicles including vans, buses, trailers, etc.

‘The Mighty Mac’ or simply known as The Big Mac is the world’s 27th largest main span bridge and the longest in the Northern Hemisphere. After fighting decades of construction barriers, Mackinac Bridge was finally done by a bunch of dauntless people in 1957 and started its journey ever since.  

An official authority was mandatory to find out the proper solution to connect the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The MBA was founded in 1950 as a result and studied the possibilities of a suspension bridge that could connect the two lands. Today we have the 5th largest suspension bridge in the world still in 2023.

Mackinac Bridge has a great story to tell. It is 65 years old constructional phenomenon standing still over the straits of Mackinac. We have shared a lot more about the bridge and its toll fares for decades. Let’s find out.

History of the Mackinac Bridge

The fate of the Mackinac Bridge was written in the 1880s with the Brooklyn Bridge being built in 1883. The people of the two peninsulas of Michigan followed a long-desired necessity of a solution with an easier communication path. It was discussed with no formal action until 1920.

The Michigan State Highway Commissioner of that time proposed a floating tunnel over the straits. Rather in 1923, the ferry service was introduced by the order of the state legislature. By 1928, it became the most demanding project for the government authority of Michigan State to start working on. After decades of failings with proper plans, and being stabbed with some great determining factors (including WW II) the project remained undone.

The lake faces freezing in the winter which would create pressure on the base of the bridge. Hence, it was one of the toughest tasks to design a bridge that would stay still all year round and can take the wind regardless of being a suspension bridge. ASCE mentioned it was David B. Steinman who got appointed for structural design in 1953. After three years of rigid working experience, the bridge finally opened on the 1st November of 1957 as scheduled. 

It’s been 65 years now the bridge has witnessed a lot in its lifetime. Over 11,000 cars cross the bridge on a daily route. The present Director of the Bridge Authority is Paul C. Ajegba of MDOT by the Michigan Government official site.

cross Mackinac Bridge image

Cost to cross the Big Mac

No such bridge is passable without paying fees or charges. The bridge authority determines the fare of passing the bridge. As of the latest tolls and fares, there will be $2-$5 of tolls for a mid-heavy vehicle.

Mackinac Bridge mentioned its tolling scheme along with its facts and configurations in a brochure. It says about the fares fixed for different types of vehicles. According to that tolls are similar to those given below.

Vehicle TypeAmount of toll
Passenger Vehicle (per-axle)$2
Passenger Vehicle (2-axle)$4
Commercial Homes $5
Motor Trucks and others$5

The Mackinac Bridge Authority reserves the right to determine whether any vehicle is of unusual or unconventional design, weight, or construction. The Mackinac Bridge Authority also reserves the right to determine the crossing charge for any such vehicle of unusual or unconventional design, weight, or construction as stated on the official page of the toll schedule of the Mackinac Bridge.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA)

The Bridge Authority (MBA) was founded in 1950 to study the possibility of a suspension bridge over the straits of Mackinac. Since it was a long-desired project for both the government and the people of the two peninsulas, an established authority was needed to carry out the project with funding and everything required to get the job done.

MBA did complete the greater task in 3 years, from 7 May 1954 to 1 November 1957. The authority had to face several disasters. The beginning of the construction was full of complications. The funding was the top of most of them.

It was undone till the MBA stood up with the reports of the engineers and convinced the state legislature to allot $85 million in bonds worth nearly $700 million in 2022.

Now, the bridge authority is run by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). With the director from MDOT, 6 more members of the authority are handling the largest northern hemisphere suspension bridge.  

Bridge Condition at the moment

Right now the bridge is in action having no significant weather conditions. Search here to know the accurate and latest condition information of the bridge. Keep an ear on the radio to get the latest on the go.

After an accident in 2003, the sidebar of the bridge was twisted in a smaller ratio. The bridge authority fixed the problem before the end of the day. But what made the bridge more consistent is the lesson from the failure of the 1940’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge which could not handle the strong top wind. This design by engineer Steinman is more flexible and long-lasting with the metal cable suspension that allows the bridge to sway instead of breaking down into pieces.

These long operating seasons have faced the requirements of minor fixing that barely made any disturbance to the communication of the two lands.

cross Mackinac Bridge by drone
cross Mackinac Bridge by drone image

A few specifications you should know about the Bridge

In 1957, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world with a length of approximately 5 miles and 7,400 feet of roadway suspended in the air over the straits of Mackinac. Now it is the 25th largest bridge and the 5th largest suspension bridge in the world.

The construction cost was $99,800,000 at that time. The length of the main span is 3,800 feet (1,158 meters) and it features a 19,243 feet long steel superstructure. The main towers are 552 feet above the water level. The mid-span ship under clearance is 155 feet.

Main cables hold a total of 42,000 miles of wires with a cable diameter of 24 ½ inches. The weight of the cables is 11,840 tons. And the total weight of the bridge is 1,024,500 tons. 4,851,700 rivets and 1,016,600 bolts were used to connect the wires and holes.

A total of 11,000 men were employed to finish the job of construction with 350 engineers on site. Approximately 5,000,000 vehicles cross the bridge annually.

Weather conditions and effect on the Mighty Mac

Weather plays a tricky role in the form of construction of the bridge. By the end of the summer when winter appears to be the toughest time for long suspension construction, it made the situation hurdled with time.

The ice pressures the base of the construction while trapped inside. Besides, on a windy day, the bridge may change the course of its position when blown by the rough wind. The Mighty Mac may entangle with the largest span in the middle of the bridge.

These were the top concerning factors considering weather conditions. But, the innovative structural design and the material used n the construction claim to stand still in harder weather conditions than that.

An Unexpected Incident/An Accident

The Mackinac Police stated the accident was taken place at 10:40 in the morning and 3 people were hospitalized with no life-threatening injuries. A northbound vehicle lost control and crossed the median while a southbound vehicle crashed right in the face of that.

The vehicle that crossed the median was being driven by Scott Bartholomew of downstate Fenton as mentioned in the Mining Journal. It also included the name of Jeffrey McCague of downstate Brighton who was driving the other one.

Bartholomew was leaning on the side rail of the bridge and was taken to the nearest local hospital with his passenger. McCague was taken to the Mackinac Straits Hospital. They got released after a short course of treatment. The bridge authority reported it was announced closed immediately after the incident and was reopened around 12:30 pm mentioned in the WHMI

A history of the tragedy of a great bridge!

Five people died on the construction site of the bridge in the 1950s. These unfortunate deaths are a part of the bridge now. Two of them accidentally fell from near the top of the Northern Tower on a temporary sidewalk.

One died in a diving accident, another one fell while welding and one man drowned in the water after falling off the bridge. This death tragedy added the name of Daniel Doyle who was a painter and died on August 7, 1997, long after the five deaths of the beginning.

The name of the five people who died on site is mentioned on the Mackinac Bridge History page of the officials. They were,

  1. Frank Pepper died on 16 September 1954
  2. James R. LeSarge died on 10 October 1954
  3. Albert Abbott died on 25 October 1954
  4. Jack C. Baker died on 6 June 1956
  5. Robert Koppen died on 6 June 1956

The Clare Memorial was built in the honor of the people who died during the construction of Michigan’s highways and bridges. All those who have lost their lives and jobs are permanently honored by MDOT. The memorial is centered at Clare in Michigan.

Transport Services by MBA

Mackinac Bridge Authority provides a few transportation services to ensure a pleasing journey through the bridge. Many car owners do not feel comfortable driving over the bridge. And heavy vehicles require extremely expert hands to cross over the bridge. For those, MBA provides the Driver Assistance Service. A few more are,

  1. Pedestrian and Bicycle Transport service
  2. Snowmobile/ATV Transport Service

These services are paid and should include the tolls. Services are discussed below.

Driver Assistance Service

This service is available 24 hours a day. Drivers who do not feel comfortable driving across the bridge can get assistance from the bridge authority staff. Driver Assistance Service will cost $10 with the vehicle toll at Mackinac Bridge.

From North, request the service from the inside of the administration building. Pull over on the wide shoulder just north of exit 339 near the booth and call bridge services to request from the South.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Transport Service

By signing a liability waiver, pedestrians or cyclists can cross over the bridge. The cost of crossing for a pedestrian is $5 and for a cyclist $15 which includes the cycle and the cyclist. Service is available 24/7.

Request the service from the inside of the administration building if you are on North. A southbound driver will ask for service by pulling over on the wide shoulder just north of exit 339 near the booth and then call.

Snowmobile/ATV Transport Service

Snowmobiles and ATVs are not allowed to cross the bridge. What about the people who need to take their specific vehicles on the other side? MBA provides the Snowmobile/ATV Transport Service for them.

The service is available from 8 am to 8 pm and 7 days a week. It costs $20 for the transportation of both the rider and the ATV/snowmobile and an extra $5 for the additional rider.

You can request the service from the park on the wide shoulder on First Street at US-2 across from the Shell Station from North. Stop at the Mackinaw City Welcome Center and call bridge services if you are from the South.

Events and projects by the Bridge Authority

Events

The annual Bridge Walk was held on the 5th of September this year (2022). The event was a part of the regular annual event of a walkthrough of the bridge with no transportation interfering during the walking hours.

The Closure Poster shows the bridge was closed on Labor Day, 2022 from 6:30 in the morning and remained till noon on that day. The annual bridge walk started at sharp 7 am and began in both St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. No transport was available during the event except for the emergency vehicles.

An episode of Dirty Jobs for the Discovery Channel was filmed on the maintenance crews performing to keep the bridge healthy each year in 2007.

Projects

Under the authority of Mackinac Bridge, there are certain projects to finish in the year 2023. 2021-23 is the project year with few construction repairing and upgrades. The projects are following.

  1. Bridge Repainting is an ongoing project that includes the removal of reapplication of primer and surface paint
  2. Expansion Joint Repairs is another ongoing project working to repair all 7 types of concrete and steel expansion joints
  3. Deck Grating Replacement has a specific time frame of spring and fall to remove and replace sections of open grating on the suspended spans
  4. Tower Painting Project and Truss Member Beam repairs are also going well with each criterion

Traffic and Maintenance of the Bridge

The world’s 27th largest span bridge is making revenue with its certain fixed amount of tolls. The bridge authority has the toll information made for varying different categories of vehicles. The regular maintenance is getting done by the tolls it receives each year.

It offers sidewalks along with car passing throughout the day. Nearly 11,000 cars cross the bridge daily. Thus, the annual revenue of the bridge is one of the best earned so far.

For additional funding, the MBA steps forward when requires.

Each year the traffic is growing faster. Since this is a tourist area, people from all over gather once a year. Besides, daily traffic is noticeably growing. Looking at the monthly traffic statistics it is clear that June to September is the duration of the most traffic. Recently, in July of this year was the highest amount of traffic till this day. While in August dropped an amount of 10,000 approximately the number 585,869.

The Mighty Mac is the only one of a few structures in the USA that has so much importance. In that year, the federal government of Michigan, USA released a 3-cent note in honor of the bridge that opened earlier.

Fact about the bridge

We have included a few facts in this conclusive part of the article. This way, the basic ideas over the bridge and its statics shall remind you it’s configured.  Fact File pointed out some facts about the bridge. We have included a few of the interesting ones.

  • The bridge is shown on Michigan License Plate.
  • It can move as much as 35 feet east or west with the changes in wind, temperature, and weight.
  • It took over 4,000 engineering drawings and more than 85,000 blueprints to complete the construction of the bridge.
  • In 1957 it was the largest suspension bridge in the world, now is the 5th. The length of the main span is 19th on the list.
  • Over 85,000 walkers participated in 1992 and an estimated 2 million people have already walked over the bridge.
  • For people who are uncomfortable driving over the bridge, the bridge authority arranges an assistance program 24/7.
  • In 1958 the US Postal service released a 3-cent commemorative stamp featuring the complete bridge.

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