A Fine Dam View from a Damn Fine Bridge

Megan Edwards at the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman
Memorial Bridge
Photo by Michael Dickman

At approximately midnight last night, the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge opened for the first time to ordinary travelers and interstate truckers. At about noon today, Mark Sedenquist and I drove across the new Hoover Dam Bypass bridge for the first time. We’ve been publishing updates about the construction progress of this awe-inspiring project since June, 2008. Living-Las-Vegas was also on hand for the opening party on October 16. On Saturday, I was in the first group of “civilian” pedestrians to walk across the bridge.

First thoughts:

1) It’s easy to cross the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge and never realize you’re even on the bridge. The roadway sits on a concrete span that is nearly 900 feet above the Colorado River, but from the traffic lanes there’s no way to tell. From a car, you can’t see Hoover Dam, the Colorado River, or any indication that you’re even crossing a gorge. All you can see are the top of cliffs, which look like distant hills.

Apex of the Arch -- Seen on Pedestrian Walkway
Photo by Megan Edwards

2) The road surface is very smooth and clean. The cleanliness won’t last, but it’s nice right now!

3) Crossing the bridge, turning around, and returning to the Hoover Dam exit ramp (exit #2) was smooth and easy. There were hundreds of visitors at the dam, but no traffic jams! I think this is a very nice improvement for tourists.

4) It was wonderful to see cross-country trucks on this highway again. It has been a major inconvenience for them to take the route through Laughlin. (I do hope Laughlin does okay without the extra traffic.)

5) There’s a nice new parking lot and visitors center just for the bridge. A picture is among those below. It’s great that the bridge does allow pedestrian access, because the view of the dam is a damn fine view.

On opening day, the bridge seen from the Hoover Dam access road
Photo by Metgan Edwards
View of the Bridge as the road reaches Hoover Dam
Photo by Megan Edwards
Crossing the bridge - driving into Nevada
Photo by Megan Edwards
Brand new visitors center for the bridge and pedestrian walkway
Photo by Megan Edwards
Hoover Dam taken from the pedestrian walkway on the bridge
Photo by Megan Edwards
Hoover Dam access road, Nevada side, seen from the bridge
Photo by Megan Edwards
Opening day party October 16 - First visitors await a fleet of double-decker 'Deuce' buses from Las Vegas
Photo by Megan Edwards
Opening day party - October 16 - Visitors climb over the wall on temporary ladders to reach the pedestrian walkway. (Now that the bridge is open to traffic, the access to the pedestrian walkway is via the visitors center on the Nevada side.)
Hoover Dam, low-water mark, October 20
Photo by Mark Sedenquist
A rare, rare sight! The high-lift - which has been operational since the dam was built 75 years ago - lowers equipment into the gorge
Photo by Megan Edwards
This bronze plaque marks the Arizona - Nevada state line. Another one nearby marks the apex of the bridge's arch.
Photo by Megan Edwards
One of several informational bronze plaques on the pedestrian walkway
Bridge facts - pretty impressive!
Follow the money - how this bridge got built


2 responses on “A Fine Dam View from a Damn Fine Bridge

  1. If you scroll up and look at the photo of the visitors waiting for the shuttle buses on the 16th, you can see the high water mark on the hills behind the buses. If the lake was full, where those people are standing, and the buses would all have been underwater! There were 50 double-decker buses staged to shuttle visitors to the Bridge Opening Party!


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