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More tourists visited the UP last year

Mackinac Bridge Authority

More people took a trip over the Mackinac Bridge in 2015 than in 2014. That means more tourists are heading to the Upper Peninsula.

Bob Sweeney, secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, says traffic over the bridge was declining since its peak year in 1999.

"But in 2015, we had a major uptick," says Sweeney. "Our traffic increased 7.4 percent over the previous year."

Bridge traffic had hit its lowest point around 2008.

Sweeney says tourist trips account for about 80 percent of the bridge’s traffic.

"There’s a lot of different factors in why traffic is doing well," Sweeney says. "Certainly the improving economy in Michigan is a big portion of that, as well as lower gas prices doesn’t hurt at all either."

Sweeney says the Pure Michigan campaign has also helped.

This isn’t just good news for the tourism economy; it’s good news for the bridge. The Mackinac Bridge relies on tolls, not state or federal money.

Sweeney says so far 2016 has had even more traffic than last year.




Morgan Springer is a contributing editor and producer at Interlochen Public Radio. She previously worked for the New England News Collaborative as the host/producer of NEXT, the weekly show which aired on six public radio station in the region.