The travel headache in Northern Michigan that's likely to happen due to the closure of the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day is getting worse. There are plans in place to potentially close the highway a full 60 miles south of the bridge, according to local media reports.

The Herald-Times of Gaylord reports that the shut down of Interstate 75 could occur at Exit 282, or M-32, in Gaylord. That exit is 57 miles south of the foot of the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City.

I-75 will likely be closed at Exit 282 from about 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 4, and no cars will be allowed north, which will likely result in more traffic coming through town, according to a news release from state Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona.

"There will be an increase in volume of travelers,” Cole said. “Communities need to be prepared for these road closings.”

But Mark Harris, commander of the Michigan State Police Gaylord Post, said that closing is tentative, and that the process of directing traffic during the Bridge Walk is going to be more of an "ongoing, fluid situation." Officials will strategize about how best to direct traffic throughout the day.

This could potentially put a lot of traffic into tiny Gaylord. But more importantly, put traffic onto a road in M-32 that doesn't offer an easy alternate route north.

We were contacted by Michigan Department of Transportation North Region who let us know that MDOT does not have plans to close the roadway. Any decision on road closure would come from the Michigan State Police.

Labor Day Interstate 75 Alternate Routes

Google Maps
Western Detour

There's just no easy way around this nearly 60 mile closure should it happen. To the west M-32 runs into US 131 at Elmira. From there it's 131 north to Petoskey and US 31 to Mackinac City. That turns a 50 minute drive to 1 hour 35 minutes.

Eastern Detour

Leaving Gaylord to the east on M-32, the detour would be north on M-33 at Atlanta, through Onaway then north to Cheybogan and US 23 to Mackinac City. That detour will cost you 1 hour and 58 minutes of travel time.

Note neither of these are official detours, simply our best guess based on local knowledge and studying Google Maps, using signed highways.

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