The state highway system has taken over much of the traffic formerly handled by the railroads and, before that, by the inland waterways. The federal interstate highway program has given Michigan important multilane freeways. By 2007 there were 195,685 km (121,593 mi) of public highways within the state, of which 1,999 km (1,242 mi) were interstate highways. A pioneer in urban highway construction, Michigan has extensive free expressways. Car and railroad ferries cross the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan. A tunnel links Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and bridges link Michigan with Canada at Sault Sainte Marie, Detroit, and Port Huron. At Mackinaw City, the nation’s third longest suspension bridge, the Mackinac Bridge, links the two peninsulas.
As in most other states, the amount of railroad track in Michigan has declined from past levels, although railroads remain an important transporter of raw materials such as metallic ores as well as parts for Michigan industry. In 2004 the state was served by 5,778 km (3,590 mi) of track.
Air travel has taken over much of the passenger business once handled by the railroads. Michigan has 20 public and private airports serving all parts of the state. Principal airports are at Detroit—the nation’s eighth busiest in 1996—and Grand Rapids.
The Great Lakes play a major role in Michigan’s transportation. The state has many ports on “America’s fourth seacoast,” as the lakes are sometimes called. Most of the shipments in and out of Michigan’s ports consist of such bulk commodities as iron, coal, and limestone.
Of all the Great Lake ports, Detroit is the leader in terms of freight receipts, although its shipments rank well behind those of Chicago and Duluth, Minnesota. Another leading port is Escanaba, which handles shipments of ore coming from the iron ranges in the Superior Upland. Marquette, Muskegon, and Bay City are also busy ports. The channel of the Saginaw River, on which Bay City is situated, was widened and deepened, and turning basins were built to enhance the river’s usefulness for navigation. The opening in 1959 of the St. Lawrence Seaway, with channels of sufficient depth to accommodate oceangoing vessels, stimulated the foreign trade of various lake ports, including Detroit. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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