With more than a thousand of the workers who helped build it looking on, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood dedicated the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge at the Hoover Dam last week. When it opens to traffic this week, it will become the Western Hemisphere’s longest single-span concrete arch bridge and one of the tallest in the world.
“This magnificent bridge is proof positive that America is not afraid to dream big,” said LaHood. “The jobs supported by this project are undeniable, and its economic benefits to the American Southwest and the nation as a whole will be felt for generations to come.”
The 1,900-ft-long bridge is part of a $240 million four-lane bypass that will reroute traffic for 3.5 miles from the two-lane bottleneck on U.S. 93 across the Hoover Dam.
Planning for the Hoover Dam Bypass began in the late 1980s, though construction didn’t begin until 2002. Since then, the project, located on the Arizona/Nevada state line about 40 miles east of Las Vegas, has employed more than 1,200 workers, engineers and safety experts. From extreme desert heat for months at a time to high winds, the area’s rugged conditions made the project one of the nation’s most demanding and difficult engineering challenges.
“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. “That hard work will now pay off by positively impacting trade and commerce and strengthening economies in the region.”
U.S. 93 is a high-priority trade corridor and is a central part of the major transportation network in the western U.S. 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.