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May 1, 2019 — To begin repainting the Mackinac Bridge’s south tower, contractors need to hang a pair of custom moveable scaffold platforms above the roadway, requiring a brief closure early Saturday morning.
Seaway Painting, the contractor for the $6.5 million two-season project, expects to need a 30-minute to one-hour closure to install the scaffold platforms. The closure is scheduled to occur between midnight Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday to minimize the effect on traffic and is weather-dependent.
“The Mackinac Bridge is a unique structure, so it requires this custom equipment for a project of this scale,” said Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney. “These platforms, which were used during the project to repaint the north tower in 2017 and 2018, will help the contractor begin their work on the south tower.”
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 drivers to keep their attention on driving and not on the platforms hanging above the roadway,” Sweeney said. ‘That’s critically important, both for drivers’ safety and the safety of our workers.”
As painting continues, the outside two lanes of the bridge near the south tower will be closed to stage equipment. Closures on the northbound lanes will be lifted on Fridays and on the 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 resumed last week, requiring crews to stop traffic briefly (usually five minutes or less) for projects, such as grating replacement and inspection work.
“Anyone who crosses the bridge in the warmer months is familiar with the sight of our continued work,” Sweeney said. “Please be patient and careful as we work to keep the bridge maintained for years to come.”
Construction on the Mackinac Bridge began in May 1954, and the completed structure was opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957. The MBA’s sole source of funding is from tolls and fees collected, with all revenue used to maintain, operate and protect the bridge.