(ST. IGNANCE-MACKINAC CITY)–The 2018 Annual Bridge Walk will be on Labor Day, as in past years. Beyond that, many of the other details have changed, prompting the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) to post a video explaining the procedures and options for this year’s event. The video, posted on the MBA website at www.mackinacbridge.org/annual-bridge-walk-2/, explains how the walk has changed, including the elimination of busing and starting the walk from either St. Ignace or Mackinaw City. “The decision in 2017 to close the bridge to public traffic during the walk for participant safety represented one of the biggest changes to the event in decades,” said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the MBA. “The feared traffic backups did not materialize, but the issue of needing to turn people away last year prompted us to make more changes to increase opportunities for participation this year.” In 2017, despite having secured 50 percent more buses to transport walkers to the starting point, many people were not able to board them in time to participate in the walk and were turned away. By eliminating busing and instead allowing people to start from either end of the bridge up until 11:30 a.m., more people should be able to participate. The biggest complaint we heard about last year’s event was that so many people were unable to walk,” Sweeney said. “This plan cuts the significant cost and logistical problem of operating the buses, but also makes it easier for the largest number of people to participate.”
Walkers essentially have three main options, outlined in the video:
- Starting from either end of the bridge and walking toward the center, turning around at the midpoint and returning to the city they started from, where their transportation located. The turnaround points will move toward the ends of the bridge beginning at 10 a.m., but walkers can walk at least a portion of the bridge as long as they start by 11:30 a.m.
- Walking the entire length of the bridge, starting from either end. Those who choose this option must reach the midpoint before 10 a.m., or they will be turned back. Anyone who walks the entire bridge must arrange their own transportation back to the side they started once the bridge reopens to public traffic at noon.
- Crossing the bridge, starting from either end, and then turning around and walking back to the side they started from. In this option, walkers will need to cross the midpoint on their return trip by 10 a.m. or they will be turned back and need to find their own transportation back across the bridge after it reopens at noon.
- The bridge will again be closed to public traffic during the 2018 walk, from 6:30 a.m. to noon on Labor Day, Sept. 3., based on recommendations from the Michigan State Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Emergency vehicles will still be permitted to cross the bridge, but no public vehicles until the walk concludes and participants are off the bridge.