2008-09-06 / Top News

40,000 Walk Mackinac Bridge

By Karen Gould

From 552 feet above the waters of the Straits, walkers and vehicle traffic can be seen sharing the bridge deck Monday, September 1, during the 51st Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. People making the five-mile journey on foot came from as far away as Sweden, Denmark, and the Grand Cayman Islands. From 552 feet above the waters of the Straits, walkers and vehicle traffic can be seen sharing the bridge deck Monday, September 1, during the 51st Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. People making the five-mile journey on foot came from as far away as Sweden, Denmark, and the Grand Cayman Islands. About 40,000 walkers crossed the Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Monday, September 1, approximately 17,000 fewer than last year. Fewer walkers were expected, following last year's 50th anniversary of the structure, which drew 57,000 walkers seeking to take part in the historic crossing.

A new traffic management plan put in place for the first time this year proved successful, said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA). Many walkers took advantage of the free shuttle service between Little Bear East in St. Ignace and the start of the bridge walk.

Police were also stationed in Mackinaw City earlier than in previous years, and were able to keep traffic flowing throughout the walk.

The MBA uses several methods to determine the number of walkers crossing the span, and the final count, he said, is accurate within 5%.

Crowd density is measured using cameras stationed along the bridge deck.

Those who walked the bridge called the weather perfect, with a dusting of clouds, light winds, and temperatures climbing to about 80 degrees.

Admiring views of the Straits, Mackinac Island, and Round Island from the bridge deck, walkers began making the five-mile trek south at 7 a.m., just as the sun rose over Mackinac Island.

By noon, the bridge was closed to walkers and the walk concluded about 1:39 p.m.

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