The 61st Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk took place on Labour Day. Superior Media was there and spoke with Governor Rick Snyder in Mackinac City upon finishing his 8th consecutive walk. Governor Snyder is on the home stretch of his second term as Michigan’s governor. Mid-term elections in the U.S. are scheduled for November 2018. Attorney General, Bill Schuette, recently won the gubernatorial ticket for the Republican party. Incument Debbie Stabenow is projected to win the democratic nomination for the upcoming michigan primaries.
With a number of significant changes to the process this year, 25,000 people still came out and participated in the 61-year tradition. Security was paramount. There was no getting away from the fact that we are in uncertain times. On water, on land, and in the air – armed deputies, sheriffs, secret service state police were pretty much front and centre. There were no buses to transport people to either side of the bridge this year, and that included transportation back to St. Ignace for the over 200 runners who took part in the annual Mackinac Bridge Run.
Three runners from ‘down-the-line’ (Bruce Mines and St. Joseph Island) enjoyed the morning on the bridge and have completed the annual run several times. “It was the first time I had the chance to take in the whole thing.” shared Shelby Coulter. “You really notice the sway of the bridge much more when you’re walking.” Coulter said that her feet were really feeling the extra 5 miles she put on them after already running 5 miles. “Walking back did challenge my feet, and I have a few extra blisters today, but overall i thoroughly enjoyed the whole morning. Everything ran with military precision, and I like that. We were supposed to be in ‘the shoot’ by 5:30 am – all of our names were checked and double-checked and then we were off.”
“The comments we heard both during the walk and those submitted through our website afterward have been very positive,” said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA). “We had no major issues and no traffic backups during the event, so we’re very pleased with how everything went.”
The most significant change to the walk was that it started from both ends of the bridge, eliminating the need for buses transporting participants from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. Many people reported walking the entire bridge, either in one or both directions, and arranged their own transportation, if needed. No participants were turned away when the starting points were closed at 11:30 a.m.
The bridge was closed to public traffic from 6:30 a.m. to noon during the event, as it was in 2017. Again, no traffic backups were reported on the highways and freeways approaching the bridge during the walk, and the bridge reopened at noon as planned.
Starting the walk from both ends of the bridge offered new options for participants, including turning around at the midpoint of the bridge and returning to the city they started from, walking the entire bridge and arranging their own transportation, or walking the entire bridge twice and returning to the city they started from.
The MBA decided to close the bridge to public traffic during the walk beginning in 2017, based on recommendations from the Michigan State Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Emergency vehicles were permitted to cross the bridge during the event, but no public vehicles were allowed until the walk concluded and participants were off the bridge.