January 11, 2014

The Mackinac Bridge

The Mackinac Bridge towers 200 feet above the windswept waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan.  “Mighty Mac” extends 5 miles across the Straits of Mackinac to link Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Before the bridge opened in 1957, travelers waited in long lines to cross the channel by ferry or drove all the way around Lake Michigan and through Wisconsin to get to the other side.  The Mackinac Bridge shortened the trip to a ten-minute drive and opened the Upper Peninsula to tourism – adding an estimated $100 million a year to Michigan’s tourist trade.

Bridge designers took special precautions for Michigan’s severe winter weather.  Grated openings between the center lanes improve airflow and prevent the road deck from being pushed up by strong winds.  During high winds, the road deck can also move up to 35 feet from side to side to keep the bridge from buckling.

Some drivers are uncomfortable crossing the Mighty Mac.  Bridge personnel call these commuters “timmies,” because they are too timid to drive across.  The bridge authority provides them with a chauffeur at no extra fee. 

On September 6, 2009, the 150 millionth vehicle crossed the Mackinac Bridge.

Stamp Issue: 2010.02.03

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