Mackinac Bridge Labor Day walk canceled this year

The Detroit News

The Mackinac Bridge's annual Labor Day walk is being canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mackinac Bridge Authority announced Wednesday.

Walkers head south during the 59th annual Mackinac Bridge Walk on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.

The bridge authority's board voted unanimously at an online meeting to call off the walk, held every Labor Day since 1958, the year after the span over the Straits of Mackinac opened to traffic.

Board Chairman Patrick "Shorty" Gleason said the suspension is for the 2020 event only and he expects the walk to resume in 2021.

"We recognize that September is months away but the event requires months of planning and early expenditures," he said. "Like organizers who have postponed festivals and other summer events, we needed to make a decision now."

Vice chairman Matt McLogan, who chairs the authority's finance committee, said that toll revenues have fallen the past two months along with traffic volumes, diminishing funds available for the more than $300,000 it costs to put on the walk.

"The walk is a wonderful tradition, which I have consistently supported. But the MBA must hold the line on expenses wherever it can now because we don't know when or if regular traffic volumes will resume," McLogan said. "Pausing the Walk for 2020 is the responsible course of action."         

Each year, between 25,000 and 57,000 people from several states and countries participate in the Annual Bridge Walk. Last September, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined those walkers crossing the nearly 5-mile-long bridge that links Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.