New bypass now a reality

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The new Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge next to the Hoover Dam opened Wednesday morning to motorists.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The new Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge next to the Hoover Dam opened Wednesday morning to motorists.

HOOVER DAM - The first vehicles crossed the new Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge next to the Hoover Dam Wednesday morning, weeks before the Nov. 1 deadline the Federal Highway Administration had set.

The bridge creates a high-speed bypass of Hoover Dam for Arizona travelers heading to and from Las Vegas.

The entire $240 million project consists of 3.5 miles of four-lane highway leading to the bridge; a 900-foot bridge on the Arizona side; a new traffic exchange at U.S. 93 and Kingman Wash Road; wildlife crossings; trail access parking; drainage structures; the nearly 2,000-foot long Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge; six bridges on the Nevada side; a new traffic exchange at the Hacienda Casino; retaining walls; and a river mountain loop trail extension.

The project is designed to reroute U.S. 93 to take motor vehicle traffic off of the crest of Hoover Dam. It will also minimize the potential for pedestrian/vehicle accidents on the dam, remove a traffic bottleneck, reopen the area to truck traffic and decrease the amount of travel time for motorists in the area.

Work on the project started in the fall of 2003 with the $10 million relocation of electrical transmission lines by the Western Area Power Administration. The Arizona approach to the bridge cost $21.5 million and was completed in December 2004 by R.E. Monks Construction and Vastco, Inc. The Nevada approach cost $30.1 million and was completed in November 2005 by Edward Kraemer & Sons, Inc.

Obayashi Corporation and PSM Construction USA, Inc. started the $114 million Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge in 2005. The central arch of the bridge is the longest concrete arch in North America at 1,060 feet and soars 890 feet above the Colorado River. The bridge reaches 277 feet above the top of the dam. The project also includes a pedestrian parking area, walkway and plaza on the Nevada side.

O'Callaghan was a former Nevada governor and executive editor of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He died in 2004.

Tillman was a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Arizona State University and was one of the university's leading defensive football players. He played with the Arizona Cardinals after college and then joined the Army in 2002. He was killed in April 2004 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The project was funded by $100 million in federal funds from the National Corridor Planning and Development Funds, Public Lands Discretionary Funds and general U.S. Departments of Transportation funds. Arizona and Nevada also chipped in $120 million to the project; $100 million in bonds and $20 million from each state.