Well, it’s finally open. Officials were pretty coy about the opening of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge late in October saying it would be open before the end of the month, probably in the middle of the night. And then they went ahead and opened it without fanfare or notice on a weekday night around 10 p.m. Sneaky, sneaky.
While Las Vegas loves big and overblown grand openings for its casinos, nightclubs and fancy smancy restaurants, dam officials didn’t want a whole bunch of gotta-see-it-exactly-when-it-opens people clogging up the entrances to the bridge so they ran a decoy play, fooling everyone into thinking one thing but doing another. Good job, guys!
And now the $240 million technological wonder is open for biz (1/2 of the $240 mil. was for the bridge and 1/2 for the 4-lane highway on each side).
This means, that by taking the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge you can shave some time off your U.S. 93 Vegas-to-Phoenix trip and catch some cool views of Hoover Dam along the way. Truckers are gonna love it ’cause, since 9/11, security concerns over a big ol’ truck full of explosives blowing up our pride-n-joy dam ran high enough to send the big rigs on a 75-mile detour, forcing illegal alien/drug smugglers to carry extra Jarritos soft drinks & Gusanitos Luminosos (which, as you know, are glowing gummy worms that come with electrical tweezers, of course). The detour was quite inconvenient all around.
The bridge is destined to become a tourist attraction as it’s supposed to be both cool to look at and cool to look from and is already part of 2-for-1 Hoover Dam tour packages, I’m sure. About 14 percent of tourists to Southern Nevada visited areas beyond the Strip, and Hoover Dam was the No. 1 off-Strip attraction. Nearly 800,000 people paid to tour the Hoover Dam last year. And the dam folks expect those numbers to increase now that the bridge is complete. In 2000, before the dam was closed to truck traffic, 1.2 million people paid to tour it. So now, tour operators are combining the two attractions into one trip. I’d bet there’s already a discount coupon for it somewhere.
Ya know, at first I was really happy that the wacky Decepticon leader, Megatron, didn’t obliterate Hoover Dam as that would have really messed up the Southern Nevada tour business. But now I’m thinking that maybe they were waiting for this bypass bridge to be built so they, too, could get a “2-for-1”. I’d put the area on Orange Alert (at least) immediately if it were up to me. Oh, and have Optimus Prime on standby.
So…where was I? Oh, yeah, the new bridge. Before the Decepticons return and destroy the thing(s) you oughta take a look at it ’cause it’s supposed to be purty (see photo, left) and also kinda special, in engineering terms, at least. Here are some factoids I stole from a much harder working journalist than I: The bypass is the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States, and is considered something of an engineering wonder. It spans a jaw-dropping 2,000-foot gorge and hovers a breathtaking 900 feet above the Colorado River. It is 1,900 feet long, with a 1,060-foot-long arch, the longest of its kind in North America. More than 20,000 vehicles are expected to roll over the bridge each day.
Wow, it’s gives my engineering side a woody just thinking about it. Unfortunately, my engineering side is very small but that kinda works out OK since my woody is, too.
Anyway, the bridge is named after a popular former Nevada governor (currently, “popular” and “governor” don’t run together when discussing Nevada) who ruled the state in the ’70’s and also an ex-pro-football-player-turned-Army-Ranger who was maybe accidentally killed by so-called friendly fire in Afghanistan. That part is bad enough but there was a U.S. military cover-up and the whole thing continues to be a big mess. Tillman went to Arizona State University so I suppose that was Arizona’s 1/2 of the naming of the bridge although the two names together don’t seem to be an ideal fit for some reason. I kind of think we oughta name the Nevada part after current Guv Jim Gibbons since so many in the state seem to want to frag him, too, but I guess the name of the structure is etched in stone by now.
To check the bridge out, head out on I-515/U.S. 93/95 towards Hoover Dam and follow the signs. If you want to read a little background on the project, here’s the official Hoover Dam Bypass Project website.