A new view of the Hoover Dam

A new view of the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam by-pass, built to rescue one of America’s most revered and valued Art Deco engineering achievements, was set for completion this week. The new bridge, which overlooks the dam and also straddles the states of Arizona and Nevada, was built because of costly traffic congestion, and fears that a major accident could happen on the dam itself.

The $240 million project across the Colorado River was delivered in budget and on time, with traffic expected to be rolling over the new bridge next month (November 2010). The U.S. 93 highway is the free trade route between Mexico, the USA and Canada, and will now cross the bridge rather than the dam.

The old road leading to the dam will remain open for visitors, but will no longer be a through road between the two states. The dam – which took five years to build and cost the lives of over 100 construction workers – was finished in 1936 and now attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Water from Lake Mead, which the dam impounds, serves 8 million people each year in the states of California, Nevada and Arizona. The entire flow of the Colorado River passes through its 17 turbines creating a significant contribution to local power supplies.

The new by-pass involved the redirection of over five miles of highway, and consultation with native Americans living on Sugarloaf Mountain. However, the name of the bridge itself puts its construction in a more modern context.

United States Congress has officially named the bridge the “Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge” after two prominent local citizens. Mike O’Callaghan was a long-time Nevadan, former Governor, community leader, and businessman. He died in March 2004 at the age of 74.

Pat Tillman played professional football for the Arizona Cardinals before joining the army. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 at the age of 27.

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