Wind gusts may not bother you much while driving, but they might if crossing one of the largest suspension bridges in the world. The Mackinac Bridge is the perfect example, as it was designed to withstand heavy winds.
So much so that it can move up to 35 feet from side to side during high winds and can experience closures due to dangerous wind conditions. Knowing this, it may not surprise you that some vehicles have struggled in the winds.
But have any blown off the side of Mackinac Bridge?
Today, we’ll look at this massive bridge and the dangers of crossing it.
What Is the Mackinac Bridge?
The Mackinac Bridge is a toll bridge that connects St. Ignace with Mackinaw City in Northern Michigan via Interstate 75. It rises 7,400 feet and reaches more than 950 feet longer than the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
It serves as the gateway to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is the main road for the many visitors who flock to Mackinac during the summer. The bridge has the nickname “Big Mac ” and “Mighty Mac” and is currently the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere.
Why Is the Mackinac Bridge So Famous?
The Mackinac Bridge is famous for its massive size. It spans 5 miles, and construction began in May of 1954. The bridge took nearly 11,350 men to complete the entire process, including 3,500 who worked on-site at the bridge. It opened on Nov. 1, 1957, and a 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe station wagon was the first vehicle to cross the bridge. You can visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum and see this car on display.
The bridge is also famous for the Mackinac Bridge Walk, which began in June 1958. The walk started with 68 people crossing the bridge but attracted 85,000 in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush participated in the event and walked with the group.
However, the largest reason for its fame is for Mackinac Island. This beautiful island is a state park with well-maintained military buildings, woods, and trails. During the summer, the island attracts approximately a million visitors, many of which use the Mackinac Bridge during their trip.
How Long Does It Take to Drive Across the Mackinac Bridge?
The speed limit crossing the bridge is a steady 45 miles per hour. It typically takes drivers 5 to 7 minutes to cross the bridge at this speed. However, those who have gephyrophobia (fear of bridges) may struggle to cross it. Luckily, those who don’t feel comfortable driving across it have other options.
The Mackinac Bridge Authority has a Driver Assistance Program to help drivers who might be fearful of crossing it. Whether towing an RV or driving a passenger vehicle, the Mackinac Bridge Authority can help. For $10 (plus tolls), drivers can hire a transport service to drive their car across the bridge. Some reports state that more than 1,000 drivers use this service every year.
How Many Cars Have Blown Off Mackinac Bridge?
Throughout its history, only two vehicles have fallen off the side of the Mackinac Bridge. However, none of them were the result of wind. The first incident on Sept. 22, 1989, initially had high winds to blame as the cause of the accident. However, investigators later discovered the driver was speeding, hit the median, lost control, and jumped the guardrail.
The second incident happened on March 2, 1997, when a driver intentionally drove his vehicle over the edge of the bridge. So neither incident involved wind.
No cars have ever blown over the side of Mackinac Bridge. The Mackinac Bridge Authority does a tremendous job of shutting down the road during high wind conditions to keep drivers safe.
How Much Wind Can the Mackinac Bridge Withstand?
The bridge can withstand high winds and move to avoid potential issues. The bridge can withstand winds up to 150 miles per hour. However, it’ll partially close when winds gust 50 miles per hour and entirely closes at 65 miles per hour.
You can check the current bridge conditions on the Mackinac Bridge website before hitting the road and tune in to AM 530 or 1610 for updates.
How Deep Is the Water Underneath the Mackinac Bridge?
The water below the bridge is 295 feet deep (90 meters). You can visit Michilimackinac State Park and swim in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron while enjoying a unique view of the underside of the “Mighty Mac.” However, wear water shoes to keep your little piggies safe from the rocks hidden in the water.
How Many Bodies Are in the Mackinac Bridge?
While five deaths occurred during the construction of Mackinac Bridge, no bodies are in the bridge. One worker died while diving, another fell into a caisson while welding, another drowned, and two fell when a temporary catwalk failed. They recovered all but one of the bodies. There have been rumors about bodies being in the bridge supports, but none are true.
Is It Scary to Drive Over the Mackinac Bridge?
Driving over the Mackinac Bridge can feel rather scary, even if you’re not afraid of bridges. Crossing it provides a unique view, but drivers must keep their eyes on the road. Take advantage of the transport service if you feel overly worried or anxious about crossing the bridge. However, in good weather, crossing “Big Mac” is no scarier than any other. You don’t have to worry about your car blowing off the side.
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