The Western Hemisphere’s longest single-span concrete arch bridge, and one of the tallest in the world, opens to traffic this week around the Hoover Dam.
At 1,900 feet long, 890 feet high, and with a 1,060-foot twin-rib concrete arch, the epic Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial 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.
The bridge, dedicated Thursday (Oct. 14), spans the Black Canyon about 1,500 feet south of the Hoover Dam.
The Colorado Bridge was renamed by Congress for Callaghan, a former Nevada governor; and Tillman, an Arizona State University graduate who gave up a professional football career with the Arizona Cardinals to serve in the Army. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 at age 27.
Planning and Construction
Planning for the Hoover Dam Bypass, located on the Arizona/Nevada state line about 40 miles east of Las Vegas, began in the late 1980s. Construction began in 2002.
The project’s design and construction were overseen by a Project Management Team composed of representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, the states of Arizona and Nevada, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Western Area Power Administration, and the National Park Service, in consultation with regional Native American tribal governments.
The Central Federal Lands Highway Division assumed the lead management role for all elements of project procurement, design and construction.
CFLHD awarded a contract to HDR Engineering Inc., based in Omaha, NE, to provide design and construction support services for the project. An integrated team from HDR Engineering, T.Y. Lin International, Sverdrup Civil Inc. and several supporting subconsultants made up the consultant team, collectively known as Hoover Support Team.
The project 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, officials said.
“This magnificent bridge is proof positive that America is not afraid to dream big,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at Thursday’s dedication ceremonies, which drew hundreds of people.
“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 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,” Mendez said. “That hard work will now pay off by positively impacting trade and commerce, and strengthening economies in the region.”
High-Priority Trade Corridor
U.S. 93 is a high-priority trade corridor and a central part of the major transportation network in the western United States. Increases in commercial freight shipments to and from Southern California, combined with population booms in Las Vegas and Phoenix, made the road over the Hoover Dam 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 that 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.