Changes are coming to the 2018 Mackinac Bridge Walk that the Mackinac Bridge Authority says will be safer and more convenient for walkers.
According to the MBA, the participants in the annual bridge walk will now start from whichever side of the bridge the arrive on. That means people in the UP will start in St. Ignace and walk to Mackinaw City while the opposite for those in the lower peninsula.
Walkers will be able to start any time between 7 a.m. and 12 p.m. and walk as much of the bridge as they can before it reopens to traffic.
Another change this year is that those who walk the bridge will walk in one outside lane to the halfway point, cross the center lanes of the bridge and head back to the starting point in the other outside lane.
If you'd like to walk the entire bridge, you'll have to walk back across - a round trip of 10 miles - or make your own transportation arrangements to get back to the other side when the bridge reopens.
The center lanes will remain open for emergency vehicles.
Last year, the bridge was closed for safety reasons and walkers walked the entirety of the bridge and then were bussed back across to the other side.
"We take very seriously the safety of all walkers and the busing issues during last year's walk that prevented many people from participating as they'd planned," said MBA Board Chairman William Gnodtke. "It's not a given that this event will continue forever, and while this is a big change, the Authority felt it is the best way to address those concerns and keep this 60-year tradition going."
Board Member Matthew McLogan voted in favor of the change.
"The cost far outweighs, as it applies to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, the benefit," he said.
Gnodtke was one of the two nay votes in the 4-2 decision in favor of starting the walk at both ends. He said the cost far outweighs the benefit.
Other options for the bridge walk included keeping it the same way, starting from Mackinaw City instead of St. Ignace, but they said the new option will save them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It's expected the new bridge walk will cost around $360,000, while the original idea would cost around $560,000 and switching it would cost about $840,000.