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Longtime Executive Secretary Sweeney Retires

LANSING, MI — While he grew up in St. Ignace seeing the Mackinac Bridge nearly every day, Bob Sweeney couldn't have known that one day he would be responsible for the operation and maintenance of it. And yet, as the former Executive Secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA), that's exactly what he has done for the past 17 years, raising his family in his hometown and caring for the Mighty Mac. Sweeney retired from that position on May 17, moving on to lead the Department of Public Works for the City of Port St. Lucie in Florida.

“Bob has exemplified what it means to be a responsible steward, leading his team in the preservation of and stable planning for our iconic bridge," said MBA Chairman Patrick "Shorty" Gleason. "We'll greatly miss his cheerful demeanor, servant leadership, expertise and professional integrity, and wish him the best in this new endeavor.”

During his time at the bridge, Sweeney led the MBA through the first significant toll increases in the bridge's history, major changes in the Annual Bridge Walk (eliminating the buses but giving people the opportunity to start from either side or walk across and back) and guided development of a 20-year business plan to address more than $300 million in preservation projects for the nearly 62-year-old structure.

“Basically, you are running a multimillion-dollar business: maintaining the bridge, controlling costs, collecting sufficient revenue and saving for future needs," Sweeney said. "Through it all, we have stayed accountable to the Straits communities and Michigan, while drawing national and international attention.”

Along the way, Sweeney said he has been supported by dedicated and talented employees, from the maintenance crews who keep the bridge in excellent condition to the friendly and efficient toll collection and auditing staff.

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“We belong to a couple of international associations, and when we give presentations on our operations and maintenance, we are clearly envied for the talent, professionalism and efficacy of the work we perform in-house," he said. "Everyone here treats this bridge as if it is their own, and it is.”

Sweeney has also enjoyed the backing of the many different MBA Board Members over his storied career.

“I have been very fortunate to have had diverse, talented and supportive board members throughout my tenure," he said. "They have all provided me, and the Mackinac Bridge, with a lot of support during my nearly 17 years here and that has made my job very enjoyable.”

A 1986 graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering, Sweeney worked in Chicago for airport design firm Landrum & Brown before coming to work for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). He held positions in Alpena and Cadillac before coming to the Mackinac Bridge.

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