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Feb 21st
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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Hoover Dam Bridge Quietly Opens to Traffic

Hoover Dam Bridge Quietly Opens to Traffic

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The Hoover Dam bridge is open to vehicle traffic, and for travelers driving along the Nevada-Arizona border the overpass not only helps cut drive time between Las Vegas and Phoenix, but provides unique views of the dam, the Colorado River and Black Canyon.

Officially called the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the new segment of US 93 officially - and without public fanfare - opened at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), approximately 9,623 total vehicles crossed the new Hoover Dam bridge (both northbound and southbound traffic) on Thursday, Oct. 21.

The spectacular $240-million project, including the centerpiece Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, creates a high-speed bypass of Hoover Dam. It also forges a safer and more efficient route for all travelers and commercial truck traffic, while maintaining critical economic ties between Arizona and Nevada and the southwest region.

"The opening of the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge allows travelers to marvel at a strength and magnificence which matches the memory of those for whom it is named," said Gov. Jan Brewer.

"It becomes a crucial part of a possible future interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas - the ‘I-11' transportation corridor connecting Phoenix and Las Vegas, two of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country-promoting commerce, tourism and trade across the western United States," she added.

Widening Along US 93

Related to the opening of the bridge, ADOT is finalizing 15 miles of widening along US 93 to the south; that work will be complete before the end of the year, a spokesperson said. ADOT has already dedicated nearly $500 million to transform many parts of US 93 into a modern four-lane divided highway from Wickenburg to the Hoover Dam.

The new 1,900-foot-long Hoover Dam bridge is part of a four-lane bypass that reroutes traffic for three and a half miles over the Colorado River. Travelers will no longer drive along a two-lane bottleneck across the Hoover Dam.

Likewise, commercial trucks will no longer be required to use a 75-mile detour, after security concerns following Sept. 11, 2001 led authorities to ban commercial trucks from traveling across the Hoover Dam.

Breathtaking Views from the Bridge

Aside from its overall utility for transportation, the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is an engineering marvel to behold that offers breathtaking views of the Hoover Dam below, with Lake Mead to the east, and Black Canyon and the Colorado River to the west.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, it is the western hemisphere's longest single-span concrete arch bridge and one of the tallest in the world. It is perched 890 feet above the water. The bridge includes a pedestrian sidewalk for those who want to take their time capturing the beauty of the structure and the dam below.

Vehicles will no longer travel across the dam. Instead, Arizona drivers headed to the Hoover Dam Visitor's Center will cross into Nevada and proceed to the parking garage. Separate parking will be provided for those seeking to take in the view from the bridge sidewalk.

Safety tips for Bridge Travel

ADOT offered travelers some safety information specifically related to the new bridge:

  • Adhere to and obey the posted speed limits.
  • Be aware that there are no safe areas for a vehicle to stop on the bridge.
  • Do not stop your car on the bridge to view the scenery or to take any pictures.
  • If your vehicle becomes disabled due to a flat tire, please do not stop on the bridge to change the tire. Drive slowly until clear of the bridge and find a safe area to stop that is completely off the travel lanes.
  • Do not attempt to cross the bridge if your vehicle is having mechanical problems which may prohibit it from safely getting across.
  • Be aware that cold air temperatures and rain can produce icy and slippery roadway conditions on the bridge.

High-profile vehicles such as commercial trucks, RVs, campers, buses and large truck-trailer combinations will not be allowed on US 93 over the new bridge during 50 mph-plus wind gusts or sustained winds of more than 40 mph.

Wind advisories will also be posted during sustained winds of 25 to 39 mph and gusts of 30 to 49 mph to advise high-profile vehicle drivers.

For safety and better wind protection, high-profile vehicles will also be directed to always use the inside left travel lane over the new Hoover Dam bridge.

For the most up-to-date travel advisories, including the latest conditions near the bridge, drivers can call 5-1-1.

"This bridge is a critical link in a major transportation network that services travelers from all over the world; it is equally as important in providing a quicker route for major freight shipments," said John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation.

"Creating a bypass for the Hoover Dam was not an Arizona problem. It wasn't a Nevada problem. But it was a problem that needed to be solved - in order to foster stronger economic connections, and bridge two populations not served by an interstate highway," Halikowski added.