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TEACH: Building the Mackinac Bridge

3 | Bridge trivia

How much steel wire was used? The total length of steel wire spun together to form the two main cables is 42,000 miles -- enough to circle the globe one and one-half times!
Did anyone die during the construction? Five men lost their lives during the bridge construction: one fell from a tower, one diver surfaced too quickly and did not recover, and 3 iron workers fell from a catwalk collapse.The view underneath the Mackinac Bridge, looking north.
When was the bridge opened to the public? Opening day for the Mackinac Bridge was Nov. 1, 1957, although the official grand opening celebration was postponed until June 26-28, 1958, because the organizers anticipated poor weather in late November. Ironically, the June celebration was marred by fog and rain anyway. View the 3¢ U.S. postage stamp, issued June 25, 1958, to mark the dedication of the bridge.
Do you have to pay to cross the bridge? To offset operating costs, fares are collected for crossing the Mackinac Bridge. The current fare for a passenger car is $2.50 (U.S.) for a one-way crossing.
What's a Timmy? Some people to this day are afraid to drive across the Mackinac Bridge, typically because of a fear of heights. Their timidness has earned them the nickname "timmies" by the fare collectors and Bridge Authority. In extreme circumstances, "timmies" will be chauffered across the bridge by bridge personnel or the local authorities.
Isn't the Golden Gate longer than the Mighty Mac? Comparison of world's greatest suspension bridges.Although the center span of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif., is longer then the Mackinac Bridge, from foundation pier to foundation pier, it is 2,164 feet shorter than the "Mighty Mac." The total length of the suspended portion of the Mackinac Bridge is 8,614 feet; the same length on the Golden Gate Bridge measures 6,450 feet.
How long will the bridge last? Now more than 40 years old, the Mackinac Bridge has withstood some incredible winds and severe snow and rain storms and has shown little sign of weakness. The original bridge architects and designers say that, if properly maintained, the bridge will probably last for 1,000 years! The bridge is currently being totally stripped and repainted, an $80-million project that will take more than 20 years to complete! A total resurfacing of the bridge roadway will be a $189 million project, expected to begin around 2016.
Read more:
Mackinac Bridge Authority to create park in viewing area, MDOT News (4/26/01)
By 2017, Mackinac Bridge to have new paint, Detroit Free Press (8/11/99)


Graphics: The view underneath the Mackinac Bridge (looking north), courtesy Christine Manninen; comparison of the world's greatest suspension bridges, courtesy "Picture Story of the Mackinac Bridge," 1978 Voyager Press.

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