The 59th Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk

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A bridge that cost $99,800,000.00 to build in 1957, and  averages 4 million vehicle crossings per year, drew 45,000 people to take part in the 59th annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. A walk that is 5 miles long.

20160905_063758People of all ages from many states in the U.S.A., including from as far away as Alaska, Tennessee and California ran, walked or rolled their way across the Mighty Mac on Labour Day, Sept. 5th, 2016. There were Canadians on the walk too.

A steady stream of buses continued to ferry people arriving from the lower peninsula, at Mackinac City, to the starting line at the northern end in St. Ignace. The bridge walk continued as a sea of people left the upper peninsula, at St. Ignace, in intervals until 11:00 am., with all walkers off the bridge by 2:00 pm.

20160905_055048By 5:30 am, the parking lots at the St. Ignace side were filling up to capacity, with the National Guard and Michigan State Troopers helping folks to cross to the staging area. The US Army National Guard has supported the bridge walk for many years, and is stationed all along the route across the Straits of Mackinac.

20160905_064722The Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan traditionally begin the walk, with a team of selected citizens, ‘The Governors’ Team’, joining them each year. State of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley officially began the walk at 7:00 am.

As dawn broke on Labour Day 2016, the weather was perfect, making the 59th annual walk “one of the best in recent memory” said Governor  Snyder, who has led the annual trek since taking office in 2011. “It’s a Pure Michigan day. Last year we had thunder and lightning at 5:00 am. We can’t beat this location where a person can see both the sunrise and the sunset.  This is one of those positive events that brings people together.”

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Governor Snyder told saultonline, “I have great respect for our neighbours to the north. Recently, I hosted a tour with Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, where we discussed maintaining a strong and productive relationship that will help Ontario and Michigan increase trade and keep our region competitive. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will promote auto industry innovation and regional competitiveness.”

The Michigan Governor and Ontario Premier met together in Traverse City, Michigan in August, 2016.  “The people of Michigan and Ontario have a longstanding partnership in many areas. Collaborating to improve the auto sector is a great use of resources that will lead to continued growth and job creation in both economies. Sharing best practices and integrating our supply chains will advance Michigan’s and Ontario’s positions as leaders in the auto industry.” shared Governor Snyder.

20160905_080958Prior to the walk beginning, a large contingent of runners set out ahead of the Governor’s team as part of the annual Labour Day Bridge Run.

When arriving to the lower peninsula, Governor Snyder was met by a large group of activists who continue to pressure the Michigan state government to shut down Enbridge Line 5. “Shut it Down.” was chanted, drawing attention to the serious issue of water safety as Enbridge Line 5 continues to age beyond it’s years.

To read about Enbridge Line 5 visit: www.oilandwaterdontmix.org

20160905_071544Saultonline spoke with the Kirkwood family, Peter and Liz, and children Ella and Miles. Liz Kirkwood is Executive Director, For Love of Water (FLOW) and is one of the authors of a letter dated April 13,2016 from ‘twenty two environmental and tribal groups, and Patagonia, formally requesting that Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette shut down “Enbridge Line 5” oil in the Straits, based on Enbridge’s multiple easement violations. Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, and crossing Great Lakes tributary lakes and streams is an imminent, high-risk infrastructure emergency for the State of Michigan.’

20160905_083621“We were hoping to  catch up with the Governor & Lieut. Gov. to ask what he is planning to do visa vie  Line 5, the 63 year old oil pipeline in the straits of Mackinac”. said Liz Kirkwood.

“We want to draw attention to the threat to our pure michigan lifestyle.” shared Peter Kirkwood.  “Michigan is a friendly, beautiful, loving place and we want to have and protect these waters for our children.” Peter Kirkwood owns ‘Workshop Brewing Company’ in Traverse City, Mi.

The letter found here: (www.oilandwaterdontmix.org) was sent to Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan State Attorney General Shuette, Interim Director Keith Creagh, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) and  Interim Director Bill Moritz, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) Executive Division.

The University of Michigan released a comprehensive computer modeling study demonstrating that more than 700 miles of shoreline in Lakes Huron and Michigan are potentially vulnerable to an oil spill from Enbridge Line 5. The pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac cross one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the world. The Great Lakes are home to 20 percent of the fresh surface water on the planet.

Triplet sisters from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Louanne, Joanne and Sueanne, made their first ever Mackinac Bridge walk in 1 hr. 20 minutes. Congratulations! They plan on participating again. Perhaps they will be one of the thousands expected, when the Mackinaw Bridge Walk celebrates 60 years.

20160905_083604The 60th Annual Mackinac Bridge walk takes place Labour Day, Sept.4th, 2017. There is no fee to walk the bridge. Passengers boarding buses and shuttles in St. Ignace, pay $5.00.

‘The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. The total length of the Mackinac Bridge is 26,372 feet. The length of the suspension bridge (including anchorages) is 8,614 feet. The length from cable bent pier to cable bent pier is 7,400 feet. Length of main span (between towers) is 3,800 feet. The Mackinac Bridge is currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world.

The width of the roadway is 54 feet. The outside lanes are 12 feet wide (2), the inside lanes are 11 feet wide (2), the center mall is 2 feet wide, and the catwalk, curb and rail width is 3 feet on each side – totaling 54 feet. The stiffening truss width in the suspended span is 68 feet wide making it wider than the roadway it supports.

The height of the roadway at mid-span is approximately 200 feet above water level. The vertical clearance at normal temperature is 155 feet at the center of the main suspension span and 135 feet at the boundaries of the 3,000 ft. navigation channel.

All suspension bridges are designed to move to accommodate wind, change in temperature, and weight. It is possible that the deck at center span could move as much as 35 feet (east or west) due to high winds. This would only happen under severe wind conditions. The deck would not swing or “sway” but rather move slowly in one direction based on the force and direction of the wind. After the wind subsides, the weight of the vehicles crossing would slowly move it back into center position. The length of the steel superstructure is 19,243 feet.’

(mackinacbridge.org)

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