America's new wonder: a record-breaking bridge

The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which opened this month and connects the US states of Arizona and Nevada, spans the vast chasm 890 feet above the Colorado River that is controlled by the dam.

The striking 1,900-foot-long structure, which reroutes traffic off of the two-lane road atop the dam, will improve traffic in the region and help protect the dam from terrorist threats, officials said.

It is the seventh highest bridge in the world, behind four in China, one in Papua New Guinea and one in the US state of Colorado.

"The Hoover Dam is the greatest civil engineering achievement in America's history," said bypass bridge project manager Dave Zanatell with the Federal Highway Administration.
"Our goal was not to outdo or outshine it. Our goal was to, in a respectful way, do something that would be great for our generation and that would stand besides Hoover Dam in a respectful and quality way that would become a part of Hoover's legacy."
The USD 240 million bridge was built in five years by 1,200 labourers and 300 engineers.
It could not have arrived at a better moment for a nation and region whose psyche has been pummelled by a prolonged, devastating recession.

Just as the Hoover Dam was built in the heart of the Great Depression and was seen as an example of the nation's can-do spirit, some hope this project can provide some uplift.
The dam and bridge are "two engineering wonders constructed at times when our country was looking at itself and wondering what the future held," said Colleen Dwyer of the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dam.

"We're looking at what can be done even at these worst of times to make these wonderful structures come to be, to create something new and different which enables America to keep moving ahead. That's the parallel."

The bridge's dimensions are staggering: at 1,050 feet, its support arch is the longest arch in the Western Hemisphere, holding up a roadway that leans on 300-foot-long concrete pillars, some of the tallest in the world.

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