Despite a few months of growth brought on by the return of tourist traffic to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, tolls on the Mackinac Bridge are scheduled to increase for all vehicles. For trucks, the increase equates to 71 percent by 2014.
At $3.50 per axle, it currently costs $17.50 for a five-axle commercial vehicle to cross the historic bridge. A revised toll schedule approved in 2008 will make that $17.50 truck toll a $22.50 fare to cross in 2010. By 2012, the truck toll will be $25, topping out at $30 in 2014.
The Mackinac Bridge, completed in 1957, takes Interstate 75 across the Straits of Mackinac to St. Ignace.
Tourist growth, expected to continue through this Labor Day weekend, is not enough to keep fares down as the state of Michigan has reported a steady, decade-long decline of truck traffic in that area.
Tolls for passenger vehicles will also increase in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but the increases amount to a dime each of those years and commuters get discounts on their return trips.
Traffic on the 52-year-old bridge still drives over the original bridge deck a decade after it was first eyed for replacement.
Paving and painting have been steady the past few years, but officials say the bridge is in need of some major overhauls.
The state has applied for federal stimulus money for bridge repairs but has not yet been able to cash in on behalf of the Mackinac. Some lawmakers who oppose the toll increases say that if the Mackinac had more federal funding, the toll increases could be lessened.
The Mackinac Bridge Authority has retained a firm to make further recommendations about the toll increases and whether they are too much or too little to solve the bridge’s issues.
On Wednesday, Sept. 2, the 150 millionth vehicle crossed the Mackinac Bridge.
– By David Tanner, staff writer