Sometimes its the strangest things that can get us excited. For many of us in Las Vegas, it’s the opening of a bridge. Yes, a bridge. On October 16, the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge ( Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) will have a one day celebration and be open to pedestrian traffic! YEAH!!! It opens to vehicle traffic in November.
I know what some of you are thinking…”Mark, It’s a bridge. Get over it!” But it is more than just a bridge. For those of us in the travel and tourism business, its like the opening of the Dam itself… Only bigger. Traffic to and from Arizona and points that way, have been stymied by the security restrictions on Hoover Dam since 9/11. At times, it took over an hour to get from one side to the other.
U.S. Highway 93, the highway that crosses over Hoover Dam, is the major commercial corridor between Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. All that traffic means jobs, tourists and dollars to the Las Vegas area . It’s also on (NAFTA) the North American Free Trade Agreement route between Canada and Mexico.
Not only that, but its just been a really neat project to watch being built over the last 6 years. Watching them scale the mountain side, blast everything away and build this concrete masterpiece. Everyone is anxious to see it finally open. Well, maybe not everyone is anxious to walk over it. The stats kind of scare a few people off. This will be North America’s largest single span concrete bridge.
Just How Big is the Bridge?
The bridge itself is 1900 feet long. It’s 1500 feet from one canyon side to the other. When looking down from the walkway, you will be looking down over 900 feet to the Colorado River below . Put it this way, The Stratosphere tower is only a few feet taller. And its 1500 feet down river from the Dam. That is One Big Bridge!
The official name of the bridge is actually “The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.” Named after two prominent area citizens who dedicated themselves to public service. Mr Mike O’Callaghan was a longtime Nevadan, former Governor, community leader, and well known businessman. He died in March 2004 at the age of 74. Pat Tillman graduated with honors from ASU and played professional football for the Arizona Cardinals before joining the Army. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 at the age of 27.