TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (WWJ) – Expect a Labor Day traffic jam Up North as Michigan officials ban most vehicles from the Mackinac Bridge during the annual walk, due to concerns about terrorism.
Around 30,000 and 60,000 people participate in the walk each year, along the nearly 5-mile-long bridge, which links Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula.
Walkers use two lanes on the bridge, while the other two in the past have been reserved for vehicles.
Under the policy announced Tuesday, the only vehicles allowed between 6:30 a.m. and noon for the Mackinac Bridge Walk will be buses carrying walkers. All other vehicle traffic will be stopped from 6:30 a.m. to noon while event participants are on the bridge.
That likely means a big traffic tie-up, but officials say the security for all involved comes first.
“This was not a decision the Mackinac Bridge Authority makes lightly. We understand this change will be an inconvenience to our customers traveling Labor Day morning,” said MBA Chairman William Gnodtke. “Our board felt this choice strikes the best balance of keeping this 60-year tradition going for the tens of thousands of visitors who walk the bridge each year and keeping them safe.”
Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue of the Michigan State Police says although there are no known threats against the bridge walk, “recent terrorist-related attacks carried out around the globe serve as a reminder to remain alert and vigilant.”
“Since 9/11, Michigan has made great strides enhancing the state’s homeland security framework to protect critical infrastructure, key resources and our residents,” she added.
Several recent terror attacks abroad have included the use of vehicles.
The event will begin at 6:40 a.m. on Sept. 4, with the start of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Jog, followed by a greeting from Gov. Rick Snyder at 6:55 a.m. The walk itself begins at 7 a.m. No walkers will be permitted to begin the walk after 10 a.m. [Get more details].