By Cathy Johnson
It never gets old, does it? The drive up north on I-75, rounding that last corner and finally espying the towers of the Mighty Mac? Whose heart doesn’t quicken a beat or two, whose breath doesn’t catch just a bit, and nowadays, whose cellphone doesn’t come up almost immediately – not the driver’s, of course – to capture that magnificent sight?
For those who have always known the Mackinac Bridge to be there at the Straits of Mackinac, it may be taken a bit for granted, but probably not. For those of a certain age, who may or may not remember crossing those waters by car ferry, the bridge is an engineering marvel. And for bridge aficionados, it is a never-ending source of entertainment and interest. Probably no other site in Michigan is more photographed. A quick search of Instagram and Facebook proves it.
Summer, winter, spring and fall, the Mackinac Bridge stand tall through it all. Its colored light at night, the changing colors of the bridge’s iconic towers, the whitecaps beneath, the freighters and pleasure boats plying their way under its span, the islands off on the Lake Huron side, the sight of the ferries taking tourists to and from Mackinac Island – all of this makes up the tapestry of the Straits of Mackinac.
And for your travel convenience, be sure to check the electronic signs updating drivers on conditions at the bridge, which is certainly an advantage these days. High wind warnings, whiteout conditions, and even bridge closures can be learned of before one gets to the bridge and finds that travel plans must be amended.
This past weekend, the bridge had an announced closure, a 5 ½ hour stoppage of regular traffic back and forth across the bridge to help assure the safety and security of the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. Publicized weeks in advance on the bridge website, in news reports as well as by electronic sign, the lengthy closure was a first for the popular weekend. Those on both sides of the bridge held their breath, waiting to see what Labor Day 2017 would bring. And, perhaps because of all the advance publicity, the bridge closure was pretty much a non-event. No massive traffic backups, no irate drivers or overheated cars. Just an understanding of what was to happen and why, and the willingness to adapt plans to make it all work.
So thousands walked across the Mackinac Bridge Labor Day morning, marveling all the way, taking pictures and making memories, and then at noon, those in passenger cars, RVs or commercial vehicles then took their turn, crossing the Mighty Mac, with many of them doing likewise.
Whichever method, for most the feelings were probably the same: excitement, wonder, and awe. The Mighty Mackinac Bridge. Aren’t we fortunate to live here?