Mackinac Bridge’s credit card process upgrade delayed


St. Ignace — A yearslong project that would allow drivers to pay the Mackinac Bridge’s toll by credit card has been delayed again.

Documents that MLive obtained through a Freedom of Information Act records request show technical glitches, stalled contract negotiations and the primary subcontractor’s unexplained absence have held up the project, which is several hundred thousand dollars over budget.

Michigan Department of Transportation officials said in August that they hoped to have credit card processing in the booths by the end of 2016. The revised estimate is by Memorial Day, according to Jim Normandin, project manager with the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

One of the final hurdles in completing the project will be deploying the swipe-and-go option for drivers at the bridge. Managers worry that accepting credit cards at the booths could slow traffic.

“We’re certainly disappointed,” said James Lake, Michigan Department of Transportation northern Michigan region spokesman. “We’ve been telling customers this service has been coming for quite some time. We certainly wished it was in place by now.”

Nearly 10,000 of the 3.4 million-plus people that drive through the bridge’s booths in 2014 had to park and pay the toll with a credit card inside the bridge’s office. Traffic has increased since then. During peak times, booth workers handling cash need to average about 11 seconds per car to avoid backups.

Initial testing for the card-reading software found that security and integration with the state payment system is still not ready.