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Visitors to the Straits of Mackinac are seeing an unfamiliar hue on the south tower of the Mackinac Bridge - the five-mile span that connects Michigan's peninsulas.

The Mackinac Bridge's south tower is being stripped of its lead-based paint and repainted.

The old ivory-colored paint on the upper portion is being replaced first, Mackinac Bridge Authority Executive Secretary Kim Nowack said. The lower portion of the south tower will be stripped of its old paint and repainted by the end of 2020.

The paint job is expected to last at least 35 years, with periodic maintenance.

The south tower painting contract is about $6.5 million, according to the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

WatchMackinac Bridge cam

"Statewide, that's the Department of Transportation's goal: To replace lead-based paint on all of the bridges," Nowack said.

If people driving on the bridge notice that portions of the south tower appear to be gray-colored,  Nowack said it's because the primer coat of paint is on that area. The tower's final paint coat will be ivory.

The Mackinac Bridge will be closed to public traffic from 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday for the 2019 Annual Bridge Walk.

ecarter@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @EvanJamesCarter

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