We took a few minutes today on our trip home from Sault Ste. Marie to pull off Interstate 75 just north of the Mackinac Bridge to view up close this engineering marvel. I think I have traveled over the bridge fifteen times in my life, but I never really paused to study the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere. This bridge carried over four million vehicles per year on journeys between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
On the north shore of the Straits of Mackinac just before the bridge's toll booth there is a visitor center with some detailed information on the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. Five workers died during the construction of the 5-mile-long causeway and bridge, and the $99 million construction cost of the bridge - which opened in 1957 - would translate into over $700 million in inflation-adjusted U.S. dollars today.
I have long understood the power of the strong winds that often whip through the Straits of Mackinac, but standing on the shore reinforced my appreciation for the wild gusts that sometimes appear. The wind was so strong that my door closed on my leg while getting out of our van, and I estimate the gusts today were in the 40-45 mph range: a person need not worry about purchasing fitness equipment in the ongoing battle against such winds. Though today was mild mid-May weather in the rest of the state, in the Straits of Mackinac the winds still felt like frigid March gales.