OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Hoover Dam Bypass, New U.S. 93 Route on Arizona/Nevada State Line, Dedicated

Hoover Dam Bypass, New U.S. 93 Route on Arizona/Nevada State Line, Dedicated

Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
The Hoover Dam Bypass, the longest and tallest single-span concrete arch bridge in the western hemisphere, finally is ready for cars, trucks and buses, ending what has been a major traffic bottleneck on U.S. 93 across the historic dam.

The bridge is expected to open for traffic some time during the week of Oct. 18. The exact day is being kept secret to avoid traffic snarls from those wanting to be among the first to cross.

UPDATE: Hoover Dam Bridge quietly opened at 9:45 p.m. on Oct. 19. For details click here to see our latest news about the opening.

The massive 1,900-foot-long bridge, part of a $240 million four-lane bypass, was dedicated Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010 by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as more than a thousand of the workers who helped build it looked on.

"This magnificent bridge is proof positive that America is not afraid to dream big," said LaHood. "Its economic benefits to the American Southwest and the nation as a whole will be felt for generations to come."

The public got its chance to celebrate on Saturday, with as many as 15,000 spectators, by online RSVP only, being allowed to walk the bridge - no cars were permitted - and see views of Hoover Dam never before seen by the public.

The Saturday event, called Bridging America, was perfect for strolling and taking pictures with not a cloud in the sky to mar views. Families spent the morning and afternoon enjoying the festivities and sharing the historic moment.

Officially known as the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the massive concrete structure spans Black Canyon and is roughly 900 feet above the Colorado River. The new section of U.S. 93, located on the Arizona/Nevada state line about 40 miles east of Las Vegas, has been under construction since 2002.

"The hard work and dedication of the men and women who worked on this bridge honor the legacy of those who built the Hoover Dam 75 years ago," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez during Thursday's dedication. "That hard work will now pay off by positively impacting trade and commerce, and strengthening economies in the region."

Congress named the O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge after two prominent Southwest citizens who dedicated themselves to public service and the greater good.

Mike O'Callaghan was a longtime Nevadan, former governor, community leader, and businessman. He died in March 2004 at the age of 74.

Pat Tillman graduated with honors from Arizona State University and played professional football for the Arizona Cardinals before joining the Army. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 at the age of 27.

Plaques that will be mounted at the bridge honoring each man were available Saturday for the public to see.

The bridge is located approximately 1,500 feet south of Hoover Dam.

U.S. 93 is a high-priority trade corridor and is a central part of the major transportation network in the western United States. Due to increases in commercial freight shipments to and from southern California, and population booms in Las Vegas and Phoenix, the road over the Hoover Dam became progressively more congested.

Security concerns after Sept. 11, 2001 led authorities to ban commercial trucks from traveling across the Dam, forcing truck drivers on the route to use a 75-mile detour which added cost and delay to businesses and consumers relying on such shipments.

The new Hoover Dam Bypass will shorten the route for commercial shippers along this major trade corridor and reduce traffic congestion for all who use it. The existing roadway across Hoover Dam will be closed to through traffic.

And if you missed Saturday's pedestrian-only event, don't feel too bad.

Visitors will be able to enjoy the canyon and river views from a sidewalk located on the north side of the Bridge for optimum viewing of Hoover Dam. The sidewalk is part of the pedestrian and visitor amenities, which include a parking lot, trail, and interpretive plaza.