Mackinac Bridge enters busy season for traffic, maintenance work

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 12:03 PM EDT
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ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WLUC) - As traffic picks up for the traditional increase in warmer season travel, so does the work required to maintain Michigan’s most iconic bridge.

According to a press release, the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s (MBA) maintenance staff is replacing pieces of the original decking, repairing deck joints, and cleaning off a winter’s worth of grit tracked onto the bridge. This year, contractors will be replacing sections of the curb and rebuilding some bridge joints this fall.

“Like with road work and maintenance anywhere else in northern Michigan, the season for taking care of the Mackinac Bridge coincides with the peak of tourism travel,” said MBA Chief Bridge Engineer Cole Cavalieri. “We do our best to minimize delays due to our work, and remove lane closures for holidays and peak traffic periods whenever possible.”

Safety is key for drivers crossing the bridge through the maintenance work zones, both for vehicle occupants and the maintenance workers who are only feet away.

“Better than anyone, we know the views of the Straits of Mackinac are tempting, but we need customers to focus their attention on driving,” said MBA Maintenance Supervisor Joe Shampine. “Drivers also need to slow down on the bridge, particularly around our work zones. Excessive speeds or just a second of inattention could result in a terrible tragedy.”

What typically results in traffic backups at the bridge is the surge of weekend traffic from late spring through fall, particularly from 2 to 6 p.m. on northbound lanes on Fridays, and 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. for southbound traffic on Sundays. Even with all toll booths open, the sheer volume of traffic sometimes exceeds the capacity of the toll workers. The bridge takes many types of payment now, including cash, credit/debit cards, Apple Pay/Google Pay, and MacPass, but cash and MacPass are the fastest transaction types.

“Our toll workers always do the best they can to get drivers through the booths as quickly as possible,” said MBA Operations Manager Mike Buby. “We just ask that customers be patient, particularly at the busiest times.”

Live traffic camera views of the bridge, updates on bridge conditions, toll rates, and information on the MacPass program can all be found on the MBA website: