Mackinac Bridge to experience brief closure Saturday

MACKINAC COUNTY — The Mackinac Bridge will be closed briefly on Saturday morning in order for crews to continue work repainting the bridge’s north tower.

The closure is expected to last half an hour to one hour. According to a press release from the Mackinac Bridge Authority, contractors from Seaway Painting need to hang a pair of custom, moveable scaffold platforms above the roadway.

The closure is scheduled for 6:00 a.m. Saturday to minimize the effect on traffic. The closure is weather-dependent.

The platforms will be lifted into place and hooked up to hoists connected to the top of the tower, allowing workers to move their work area up the tower as they progress. The system includes safety blocks on the hoists, static safety cables, and a net beneath both platforms.

“While the sight of this work is certainly interesting, we urge customers to keep their attention on driving and not on the platforms hanging above the roadway,” Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney said in the press release. “That’s critically important, both for drivers’ safety and the safety of our workers.”

The project is required to be completed by Dec. 31, 2018. The original paint is lead-based, and Seaway is required to contain 100 percent of the paint as it is removed, test it and ship it to an appropriate landfill facility. The new paint, which is zinc-based, is expected to last at least 35 years with periodic maintenance.

As painting resumes, the outside two lanes of the bridge near the north tower will be closed to stage equipment. Sweeney said closures on the northbound lanes will be lifted on Fridays and on southbound lanes on Sundays during the peak traffic weekends. Lane closures also will be removed as needed for other high traffic volume times, such as holidays.

Seasonal work by MBA staff also will resume soon, requiring crews to stop traffic briefly (usually five minutes or less) for projects, such as grating replacement and inspection work.