Jul 18 2008

The Mackinac Bridge…A Spectacular 1950s Secondary MEP

Published by at 8:49 pm under Wave Guide 8: Non-Space MEPs

The Mackinac Bridge has connected the lower peninusula with the upper peninsula of Michigan since 1957, the same year that the 1st race to space began with the Soviet launch of Sputnik.

The bridge is a stunning example of pre-Apollo ebullience and impressive state-of-the-art technology in a 1950s secondary Macro-Engineering Project (MEP). Although a bridge at this location had been discussed since the 1880s, when the growing emotional and financial ebullience of the mid-1950s intersected with the engineering brilliance and vision of Dr. David Steinman, the Mackinac Bridge became a reality.

Construction actually began in 1954, about 5 years before the opening of the Apollo Maslow Window (men first landed on the Moon in 1969). Total cost was about $ 1 B (current $). Given the world-class technological challenges of severe and changeable winter weather (wind, ice) — that dwarf those of the Golden Gate built in 1937 — the bridge is a marvel and was designed by New York engineer Dr. David Steinman.

During his interview for the position, Dr. Steinman was asked what would happen if a ship loaded with iron ore crashed into the bridge; his ebullient response was, “The boat would sink with a serious loss of life.” That was the right answer, and needless to say, he got the job; See Mackinac Bridge (2007) by Mike Fornes.

This week I experienced a near-perfect weather day at the Mackinac Bridge and took this picture (and others) of what is still an amazing structure, especially if you attempt to cross it during high winds! These views are from Mackinaw City looking north.

To see Bruce’s beauty shot of the Mackinac Bridge, click mac11.jpg.

The Mackinac Bridge’s 5 mile length replaced the Golden Gate Bridge as the longest suspension bridge in the world. Steinman actually designed the bridge to withstand winds up to 600 mph. Not to worry, the highest wind ever measured on the bridge was only (!) 124 mph in 2003.

One response so far

One Response to “The Mackinac Bridge…A Spectacular 1950s Secondary MEP”

  1. Elliott Roberton 04 Aug 2008 at 12:02 am

    Wow, the largest structure in my county (Emmet) highlighted on one of my favorite space exploration blog. Unexpected but relevant none the less.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply