Mackinac Bridge Labor Day closure affecting UP traffic and tourism

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ISHPEMING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - Every Labor Day for 60 years, people have had the opportunity to walk the five miles across the iconic Mackinac Bridge with vehicle traffic by their side. This year the Mackinac Bridge Authority is closing the bridge to vehicles form 6:30 a.m. to noon on Labor Day for safety and security concerns.

"There has not been any kind of specific threat against the bridge walk, this is just acting out of an access of caution trying to make it safe as possible," said Dan Weingarten the Communications Representative for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

For months, MDOT and the Mackinac Bridge Authority have been reaching out through social media, posters, digital messages, and press releases to inform travelers of the closure ahead of time.

"State government has really been working hard to try to make sure that everybody knows this closure is going to happen," said Weingarten.

With this closure, MDOT is preparing for backups along US-2 and I-75 north and south of the bridge as it opens at noon.

Portable bathrooms, refreshment stations, mechanics and the Michigan State Police will be along both highways to assist traffic in any way possible.

"We ask everybody to be patient, pay attention to signs and obviously pay attention to law enforcement," said Weingarten. "They will be trying to keep people who are backed up parked on the shoulders of the road to give room for emergency vehicles."

Knowing there will be major travel traffic around the holiday weekend, a major question is if U.P. tourism and attendance for the Marquette Marathon and Blues Fest will decrease.

"I don’t think it’s going to have a real dramatic effect on our Labor Day tourism," said Anna Dravland, the Community Relations and Event Marketing Coordinator for Travel Marquette. "A lot of our holiday traffic comes from the Illinois and Wisconsin area so they don’t even cross the bridge and it will only be closed for a few hours on this one day."

MDOT suggests for anyone who is planning to travel on Labor Day to delay their trip a couple hours and enjoy the Upper Peninsula before making their way to the bridge to avoid backups.

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