Our Michigan bridges, though you may take for granted at times, are considered among the world’s most impressive structures. Although their main job is to get you from point A to point B, these bridges do a lot more for our state than we may know. This month in Michigan’s history, three major bridges were opened to the public, forever changing our local and international transit. Here’s a closer look into our bridge history.
- The Douglas MacArthur Bridge: Before the bridge we know of now existed, two bridges previously connected Detroit to Belle Isle. The first bridge was erected in 1889 and was made out of steel and wood. On April 27, 1915 the bridge caught fire and collapsed into the river. In July 1916, the second bridge opened and was known for its noisy wooden plank roadway. Fast forward to November 1, 1923, the third bridge opened, initially named after George Washington. It wasn’t until 10 years later when the Common Council chose instead to rename the landmark the Douglas MacArthur Bridge, in honor of the American military commander.
- The Ambassador Bridge: The international bridge linking Detroit and Windsor officially opened for traffic on November 14, 1929. After multiple failed bridge proposals due to opposition from Mayor John Smith, Detroiters overwhelmingly approved the bridge construction in a referendum on June 28, 1927. The McClintic Marshall Company, who would later go on to build the Golden Gate Bridge, developed the Ambassador Bridge and finished ahead of schedule. The Ambassador Bridge remains the largest international suspension bridge in the world with over an average of 10,000 vehicles crossing every weekday. It is one of North America’s busiest international border crossings in terms of traffic and trade.
- The Mackinac Bridge: After 48 months of construction, Mackinac Bridge officially opened to the public on November 1, 1957. Constructed of 71,300 tons of structural steel, 931,000 tons of concrete, and 42,000 miles of cable wire, the bridge stretches over 8,600 feet and connects Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. The bridge’s unique design allows it to flex with severe weather such as high winds, temperature changes, and constant changes in weight. Once the bridge opened, automobile car ferry services across the straits ended.