August 03, 2006

The Mighty Mac. When it was completed, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It took 42,000 miles of cable, more than 460,000 cubic yards of concrete, and weighs in at just over one million tons. On completion, the state governor called it an engineering marvel on the scale of the great pyramids, the Suez and Panama canals. The bridge has only one flaw: It wasn't built in a huge metropolis. When people talk of great bridges, you hear about the Golden Gate or the Verrazano Narrows, but you don't often hear about the Mackinac Bridge.

My mother remembered taking the ferry across the Straits of Mackinac before it was finished. My great uncle helped to build it. The Golden Gate was first - and has a longer center span - but the bridge affectionately known as the "Mighty Mac" still ranks third in the world in overall length - 5 miles from shore to shore. The bridge was envisioned as early as 1884. The Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority was officially founded in 1934 to investigate the possibility of construction. A route was selected in 1936. Due to funding delays, actual construction was not begun until 1954. The bridge opened to traffic on November 1, 1957. (Some history and photos may be found in this newspaper article and many more in the FPP link.) One of my favorite facts regarding the Mackinac is that painting it is a never-ending job: It takes a full seven years to give the bridge a new coat of green paint, and by that time the first section painted needs to be redone. ...and yes, if you ever heard the story - it is indeed true that a Yugo was once blown off of the bridge by high winds.

  • The Mackinac Bridge is a wonder. The best part of driving to the UP is heading up I-75 and suddenly seeing it in the distance, miles before you get to it. Going over the bridge is a white knuckle event for a lot of people (I've got to look straight ahead, I nearly froze going over it once when I made the mistake of looking over the side, my wife said I was down to about 15 miles per hour and sweating!), if you can't do it, a bridge employee will drive your vehicle over for you. And... a great story is located here.... flying over the bridge is one thing...flying under it will get you in trouble!
  • I've driven over that one, but the bridge that really white-knuckled me was this one.
  • RTD, the CBBT is SO cool!! I went over that as a kid, and I loved the sense of "driving on the water" as someone who lives in the vicinity of one of "those" bridges (the GG) I have to express amazement as how beautiful and inspiring something like a bridge can be :)
  • I did the CBBT a couple of years ago, I had no idea what the configuration was when I got on it, it looked like any other bridge/causeway I had traveled...then, I realized that it stopped half way across.... WTF! then I went under water, then I understood... a cool bridge....
  • I just moved about an hour south of the Chesapeake Bridge/Tunnel. I've gone over (under?) both of the minor bridge/tunnels between Newport News and Norfolk but haven't taken the longer tunnel yet. Would make a fun weekend trip into the wildlife area north of the CBBT... and HuronBob, that's a damn cool story you linked to - but sort of sad, too.
  • Beauty post CLF, thanks!
  • Those pics really are not complete without one looking through that center grate. 5 miles of that, especially on a windy day, always makes me a bit nervous.
  • Mackinac Bridge kicks fucking ass. My grandpappy was an engineer during the construction. His big thing was designing the way the bridge connected to the roads, which as far as I'm concerned should mean I'm entitled to not pay the $2.50 toll.
  • 42,000 miles of cable?! Jesus, that's incredible.
  • I'm from Iowa. In Iowa we don't kno nothin' bout big bridges. Bridges here just have to be wide enough for a tractor. Or for a pickup with three farmers in cab.
  • No threat
  • Whew! The middle west is once again safe from terrorism.
  • Local prosecutors charged them with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes. and blatant and possibly unrepentant middle eastern heritage. mustn't forget that.
  • *agog*
  • I know. That guy's OCD is truly a force to be reckoned with. Plus the macs are cool.