Time:
04:00 PM - 05:30 PM
Date:
7 October 2021

Building Mackinac Bridge

History & Heritage

In the aftermath of the 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse the safety of existing long-span suspension bridges was very much in question. Leading bridge engineers of the day studied and debated the collapse. The future viability of long-span suspension bridges was very much in question. It was clear the next generation of suspension bridges would face tremendous scrutiny.

By 1950 citizens of northern Michigan had dreamt of a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac for over 70 years. Finally, in 1950 the Mackinac Bridge Authority was established to build a bridge. Success was far from certain in the harsh environment of the Straits of Mackinac. The four-mile-wide Strait would require record setting foundations, and superstructure design and construction. Leading the design effort was legendary bridge designer David B. Steinman. Construction in the harsh environment of the Strait required extraordinary men, machines, and methods. After starting construction in 1954, the bridge opened to traffic in the fall of 1957.

The Mackinac Bridge is an important chapter in the history of bridge design and construction. This presentation will bring the story of the Mackinac Bridge to life, providing a unique learning opportunity.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discover why the Mackinac Bridge is still considered one of the greatest bridge-building stories.
  • Visualize the challenges of building the Mackinac Bridge, the unique innovative construction methods employed.
  • Describe the importance of the Mackinac Bridge to growth and development of Northern Michigan in the twentieth century.