2017-08-31 / Front Page

I-75 Access Could Be Restricted North of Gaylord To Ease Traffic During Bridge Walk

Traffic delays are expected to be the biggest challenge in the local area when the Mackinac Bridge is closed to all private vehicles during the Labor Day Bridge Walk this Monday. Buses for walkers and emergency vehicles will still be able to use the bridge. A comprehensive article about the plans is published with free access in The St. Ignace News August 31 edition.

These updates were announced Thursday, August 31: Police have made additional plans for highway and ramp closures Monday morning to reduce Straits area traffic levels. Police will assist in rerouting traffic where possible. Police aircraft overhead will monitor traffic during the closure and determine if any changes to the plan need to be made. Access to I-75 north of Gaylord could be restricted to prevent motorists being stranded in a backup on the expressway.

Gaylord State Police Post Commander, First Lieutenant Mark Harris said that the process of directing traffic during the Bridge Walk is going to be an “ongoing, fluid situation.” Officials will strategize about how best to direct traffic throughout the day. "Obviously, the intent is to minimize motorists being stranded while the bridge is closed.”

A total of 150 portable toilets will be placed alongside US-2, spread out at quarter-mile intervals, in preparation for waiting traffic.

As previously reported, the Mackinac Bridge Authority is setting up aid stations where travelers will have access to water, juice, light snacks, and restrooms: one on Trail’s End Road near the KOA Campground in Mackinaw City; another at the I-75 rest area near St. Ignace; and two at US-2 roadside parks west of the city. The Bridge Authority will have mechanics stationed at both sides of the bridge for minor mechanical problems, such as overheating, running out of fuel, or flat tires. A total of 150 portable toilets will be placed alongside US-2, spread out at quarter-mile intervals, in preparation for waiting traffic. 

Motorists who have flexible Labor Day travel plans are advised to leave early enough to cross the Bridge before it closes at 6:30 a.m. or stay an extra day and leave for home Tuesday.

The Coast Guard will enact a security zone around the Mackinac Bridge as a security measure for the 2017 Annual Labor Day Bridge Walk Monday from 6 a.m., until event conclusion.

The security zone includes all waters on either side of the Mackinac Bridge within one-quarter mile of the bridge.  

As part of enhanced security measures for this year’s event, all waters within the zone will be closed to recreational vessel traffic. Only commercial vessels with a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection or foreign equivalent, and under the command of a licensed mariner, will be permitted to transit through the security zone.

Commercial vessels seeking to enter and transit the zone must obtain permission from the Coast Guard at least one hour prior to entering the zone. Vessels should make initial contact with Vessel Traffic Services St. Mary’s River on VHF channel 12. All vessels entering or moving within the security zone must operate at speeds necessary to maintain a safe course and not exceed 12 knots. The on-scene Coast Guard Patrol Commander may control the movement of all vessels in the security zone and may subject vessels to screening as a condition of entry.

The Coast Guard may be assisted in the patrol and enforcement of this security zone by federal, state, and local agencies. When hailed or signaled by a patrol vessel, a vessel in the zone is required to immediately comply with the directions given. Uncooperative mariners will be expelled from the zone, cited for failure to comply, or both. All concerned traffic may contact the Coast Guard Patrol Commander on VHF channel 16.

Colonial Michilimackinac Parking Lot Closed Until Noon; Site Closed Until 1 p.m. Monday

To cooperate with new safety measures for the Labor Day Bridge Walk, the Colonial Michilimackinac Visitors Center parking lot, under the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City, will be closed until noon Monday, September 4, Mackinac State Historic Parks has announced.

Consequently, Colonial Michilimackinac, its 18th-century British fort and fur trading village, won’t open until 1 p.m. Scheduled programs will start that time and the site will close at 5 p.m. The last admissions will be at 4 p.m. 

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