A Unique-Looking Bridge That Withstands The Weather
This is one beautiful and unique-looking bridge, one that also had stood the test of time and elements. It may not be a famous bridge in the United States, like the Golden Gate or Brooklyn Bridge, but it should be better known than it is. It is to be special for Modern Marvels to do an episode on it.
Unlike the more famous bridges, it doesn't a get a ton of traffic or is placed in a crowded metropolitan area, but it's still special. For almost 50 years, this was the longest two-suspension bridge in the world. In addition to its looks, what makes this special are a couple of things: the two center lanes in the four lane structure are open grills. If you are afraid of heights, this is not a good bridge to go over, for that reason and the fact that outside rails aren't that tall. They actually have - twice a day - a service in which someone will drive you over the bridge themselves, a kind of taxi service for those freaked out by heights and the appearance of driving almost in the sky.
This bridge was completed in the mid 1950s. Costs and all the tonnage are probably not of much interest, so I won't go into all the details, although the numbers are really impressive. Five people also died making this bridge.
The toughest part of this project was - and is - the weather. The bridge two small Michigan towns and is located about 300 miles from Detroit and 400 miles from Chicago. The area is called the Straits Of Mackinac. It connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.
Winds of up to 100 miles an hour can whip through the area and the winters can be absolutely brutal. Conversely, the summer heat can reach 100, too. Most times, the winters were so severe they had to stop working and resume in the Spring. Because of the extreme weather conditions, the bridge is a "fluid and flexible" bridge, able to expand and contract to whatever the temperature are at the moment.
A famous engineer from New York City, David B. Steinman, directed the operation, and completed it on time (November 1, 1957) and on budget. A NYC firm financed it, so this bridge certainly has a New York flavor, which is different since the bridge is located in Michigan.
One last note, in case you hear someone talk about this bridge. Despite the spelling, it's pronounced "Mack-in-naw."
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