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Well-known Mackinac Bridge toll collector Pat Rickley to retire after nearly 30 years

Pat Rickley, Mackinac Bridge 1.jpeg
Posted at 1:39 PM, May 19, 2023

If you've driven across the Mackinac Bridge any time over the past three decades, you've likely come across Pat Rickley. He's perhaps the most-recognized toll collector at the Mackinac Bridge.

On Saturday, Rickley will retire from his job at the toll booth after nearly 30 years, where he not only took your money but made you feel welcomed after crossing the bridge.

Rickley made it a point to make eye contact with every driver who came to his toll booth and make small talk with them, something not often seen at toll booths around the country.

“Generally, they’re just happy there’s a positive person in their face,” he said. “I get to meet so many different people, see so many different personalities. It’s been a good time.”

According to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, Rickley's chatting didn't slow down his processing time. He usually got 8-9 cars a minute through the toll, and he holds the record for the most vehicles processed in an hour – 489.

“Whether we’re talking about hunting, fishing, golfing, or quads, Pat has always been very welcoming and friendly,” MBA Chairman Patrick Gleason said. “His dedication to greeting motorists is second to none.”

The MBA said Rickley grew up in a family of eight just north of St. Ignace. After graduating from St. Ignace LaSalle High School, he joined the Army and served as part of the 1st Infantry Division. He was stations in Kansas and Alaska, and had four years on active duty and four years in the reserve.

Before joining the bridge, he worked in a variety of jobs, and he was also elected to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and served on the board of directors.

Besides being in the toll booth, the MBA said Rickley served two years on the bridge patrol, escorting placarded loads and high-profile vehicles during high winds.

Rickley grew up in a family of eight just up the road from St. Ignace on Chain Lake. As kids, he and his siblings would jump on trains as they passed by for a ride into town.

“I look into everybody’s eyes,” he said. “I get just as much energy as I give them.”

“St. Ignace is a beautiful area,” he added. “I still live in one of the most beautiful places.”