Stay off I-75 on Labor Day, state police warn ahead of Mackinac Bridge closure

GAYLORD, MI – Michigan State Police have Labor Day contingency plans in place for I-75 between Gaylord and Mackinaw City, should the Mackinac Bridge’s closure on Monday create an epic traffic jam.

But first, troopers have a simple plea for motorists: If you don’t need to be on I-75 north between 6:30 a.m. and mid-afternoon that day, stay off the highway. Seriously.

“We want to limit people having to be stopped, unable to move on the highway,” said Lori Dougovito, a spokesperson for the Michigan State Police.

“We are telling travelers that traffic flow to Northern Michigan is expected to be impacted to some degree. We can’t guess to what degree that will be.”

The annual Labor Day Bridge Walk is expected to draw up to 60,000 participants to the Mackinac Bridge this year. For the first time, the bridge for security reasons is closing to all vehicle traffic between 6:30 a.m. and noon during the walk. And that 6:30 a.m. time is a hard close.

During that timeframe, there are two planned closures immediately on either side of the bridge: Northbound I-75 at Exit 337 on the south end of the bridge, and southbound U.S. 2 and I-75 at Exit 344 in the Upper Peninsula.

The Bridge Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation have been warning residents about the Mackinac Bridge closure for months.

As a worst-case scenario, they have said traffic on U.S. 2, northwest of the bridge, could back up for 20 miles if drivers don’t change their travel plans and avoid the bridge during that 5.5-hour closure.

But I-75 south of the bridge is also a concern. Especially the 58 miles between Gaylord and Mackinaw City.

That’s one of the stretches where MSP troopers will be fanning out on Monday, watching for congestion that might prompt them to restrict or detour traffic from the highway.

And despite media reports that I-75 will shut down completely at a specific time that day, Dougovito on Thursday told MLive that no highway closure is set in stone. It’s part of a…

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