"Another Trip to the West"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, April 29, 2011

Each year, I take a trip west to Arizona to visit my daughter Lori and her family. This has been an annual activity for over 20 years but each year is a little different.

We often travel to Las Vegas while in Arizona, and the past several years have made the trip by car. Shortly after 9-11, highway U.S. 93, the route we took, was restricted at the Hoover Dam. Both sides of the dam, in Arizona and Nevada, had check points to monitor close control of traffic over the dam. The check points were manned 24/7 by Bureau of Reclamation police officers and contracted security personnel.

Each year since construction began in 2005, as we passed over the top of the dam, we observed the progress of the Hoover Dam Bridge. Its span was to be 2,000 feet with a 1,060 foot twin rib concrete arch. It is the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the U.S. and has the longest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere. As we watched the construction progress, it was easy to see how difficult the project was and how extensive the engineering had been to accomplish it. Officially named Mike O’Callaghan — Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the bridge opened Oct. 19, 2010. Completion of the bridge allows U.S. 93 through traffic to pass over the canyon without crossing the dam.

Those wishing to visit the dam must exit on the Nevada side onto State Route 172 and pass through the sole inspection checkpoint. You can drive across the dam to the Arizona side or park in a structure on the Nevada side. There are numerous opportunities to look down either side of the dam or observe the new bridge, Lake Mead and the Colorado River in the Black Canyon.

As we read the pamphlets and handouts, we learned construction of the dam began in 1931 and the last concrete was poured in 1935. In spite of the remote location and dangerous, harsh working conditions, the dam was completed two years ahead of schedule and well under budget. Hoover Dam’s reservoir is America’s largest man-made one. It can store 28.5 million acre-feet of water which equals 9.2 trillion gallons. An acre-foot of water would cover a football field to a depth of one foot.

The dam not only controls the water flow of the Colorado but meets the water needs of over 20 million people in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and other cities, towns and Indian communities in three states.

The dam also generates low-cost hydro electric power for use in all of Nevada, Arizona and California, serving more than 1.3 million users. Irrigation of over a million acres of some of America’s richest crop lands that grow a wide variety of produce and fruits, plus cotton and hay, is another benefit of the dam’s construction.Viewing the new bridge was awe-inspiring, revealing the true engineering feat it took to complete. If you have never made the trip to see the dam, now with the beautiful new bridge as its backdrop is the time. As I See it, your visit will be, as it was for me, an experience never to be forgotten.


Call (702) 494-2517, or visit hooverdambypass.com


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