Sunday, January 09, 2011

Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge

For the last several years we've been monitoring the construction of the new Hoover Dam Bypass bridge over the Colorado River gorge, just below Hoover Dam.  The bridge was completed and opened in October, so I've been eager to see it and walk across it.  That chance came the week before Christmas.  The UNM Lobos were playing in a tournament in Vegas on the 22nd and 23rd and I flew out for that.  (Susie stayed home because daughter Heidi and her fiance, Joey, who live in Vegas, were driving to Albuquerque on the 23rd for Christmas weekend.)

I flew out on the 22nd.  Joey and I went to the tourney that night: Lobos beat Colorado.  Next morning H&J departed for Albuquerque (in a car they rented that could accommodate their two Boxers, Katie and Zoie); I drove Joey's car to Hoover Dam.

Here are a couple of shots of the completed bridge (taken by cell phone since I forgot to bring my camera).

The bridge is 1900 ft. long and 900 ft. above the river. Its cost was budgeted at $240M  and was completed within budget.  The bridge has been named the “Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge” for Mike O’Callaghan, former Governor of Nevada, and Pat Tillman, who played professional football for the Arizona Cardinals, quit to join the Army, and who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

There is a pedestrian lane, seen here, on the dam side of the bridge (pardon my French) that you reach from the old road that crosses the dam. The lady in this picture had a real fear of heights.  If she met someone coming from the other direction, she would put her hand on top of the wall at her left and crouch down so nobody could get between her and the wall.

That wall is tall enough that when you drive across the bridge you can't look out or down - it's not a place you'd want to have a distracted driver.  Can't wait to drive Tuzigoot across, though, and see what view that vantage point provides.  Signs instruct drivers of high profile vehicles to keep to the center lanes, because of wind, I think.

A neighbor who drives to Vegas frequently, en route to Reno, tells me that the bypass bridge saves close to an hour in driving time and a significant amount of gas, too.  For the last several years, large vehicles have had to get to Vegas by way of Bullhead City and that requires a long descent and climb at the river crossing there.  We won't miss that.

Here are a couple of shots from the bridge:


Next time you're in the area, check it out.

Here's a parting shot of Lake Mead.

 I spend the rest of the 23rd with friends and former Albuquerqueans, Budd and Carolyn Bornhoft.  Budd and I went to the ballgame, UNM lost to Northern Iowa, and I flew home early Christmas Eve morning.  We enjoyed a very nice Christmas and Susie's birthday weekend with Mandi, Heidi, Joey, Katie, and Zoie.  Hoie, hoie, ho.

Happy New Year!

Susie and Rob

Here's a theme picture.