By on December 23, 2009

The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge near the Hoover Dam

Feast your eyes on these images of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge being constructed over the Colorado River near Hoover Dam. Sure, it cost taxpayers $160m, but just look at it. America may have lost its way in terms of auto manufacturing, but we’ve never stopped being the greatest country to explore by car. [Hat Tip: Dean Huston]

Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

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34 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Infrastructure As Art Edition...”


  • avatar
    NN

    that really is fantastic.  I drove across the Hoover Dam last November going from the Grand Canyon back to Vegas.  I saw the construction at that point in time and it was already incredibly impressive; and now with the full buttress (is that what it is?) spanning the Colorado it looks even better.  The view from that bridge is going to be insane…they better allow for a pulloff so people can take pics, otherwise traffic will crawl across it.   You will be way up there over the Colorado on this bridge.

    • 0 avatar

      From the project Web site:

      Q. WILL THERE BE A SIDEWALK ON THE COLORADO RIVER BRIDGE? A. Yes, it will be located on the north side of the Bridge for optimum viewing of the Hoover Dam. The sidewalk is part of the pedestrian and visitor amenities, which include a parking lot, trail, and interpretive plaza.

    • 0 avatar
      hbjimbo

      So, …yeah. The bridge was definitely needed once it opened.

      Gotta love corporate America. So, yea…. There will be no need to pull over ON THE BRIDGE for camera shots, …cuz you can’t. (There are none they made.). Wanna know why??? “Oh!! …I’m SO glad you asked.” Let me answer it for you. You’re welcome in advance. The are spots on each side of the river/gap to park and walk out there. But IF YOU DRIVE ALONG IT, EVEN IN A TRUCK OR SUV () , they have your concrete dividers set up to where YOU CAN ONLY SEE OFF IN THE HORIZON AND THE SKY, and no further lower. Gotta love the monotony and obscurity of commerciality.

      …so just park in a parking lot and walk out.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    I haven’t been sightseeing at hoover dam in over 15 years, but I suspect the man wants to remove most traffic over hoover dam for security concerns, and just in case Population growth in the west takes off again.  I love the west.

  • avatar
    Hank

    My assumption is the same as lilpoindexter’s.  As far as what’s wrong with it from my pov?  It ruins the view of the dam.

  • avatar

    My favorite bridge is the Verrazano, which for those not in the know, goes from New Jersey to Brooklyn. Very graceful. Boston’s Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill bridge is also a beauty.
    @lilpoindexter: the west doesn’t have enough water for any more population growth, or even for what there is already. But the US population is projected to rise from the current 307 million to 438 million by 2050, mostly due to mass immigration.

  • avatar
    ruckover

    Beautiful bridge.
    Since I am from the midwest, my vote goes to the Mackinac Bridge.  Five miles from shore to shore and an amazing view of  the two peninsulas of Michigan.

  • avatar
    swhelan

    There’s nothing “wrong with this picture”. Really going for the low-hanging fruit today, eh?
    Sufficient crossings of the Colorado River for commercial transport are a good thing.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    I’ll play the downer and say that the whole scene looks like a clustertruck.  In addition to man’s dam and bridge “improvements” take notice of Lake Mead’s upper bathtub ring waterline.  A real improvement huh?  And, although hard to see in the photos, don’t forget the endless strands of powerlines that spoil the natural scenery even more.   At least the construction of Hoover Dam provided jobs to people long dead, amusement to countless tourists, and much needed water and electricity to Las Vegas and beyond.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    I agree with Hank.  Taking a really interesting bridge and putting it in front of a really interesting dam just ruins both.    The view looking downstream is a little better, but overall the juxtaposition gets you nothing in the way of artistic merit, and jumbles up what could have been two good pictures.
     

    Further, at the angles you have to look at it to see both, the arch of the bridge clashes terribly with the arch of the dam.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I was last there in March ’07 and didn’t notice any construction at the time.

    I assume the bridge and related highway will be 4 lanes as is most of US 93 between Kingman, AZ and Henderson, NV.  I just hope they don’t close off the existing 2-lane highway over the dam with its hairpin curves and multiple overlooks on either side.

  • avatar

    Bridges appeal to something very deep in people.  For something purely utilitarian, intended to get from point A to point B, bridge designers have almost always combined form and function in a manner to people find aesthetically pleasing.  There are sightseeing and photography turnoffs adjacent to the Mackinac Bridge and many bridges become tourist attractions in and of themselves- the Golden Gate Bridge, London Bridge which was moved to Arizona, and the Brooklyn Bridge are just a few examples.
     
    The Verrazano bridge is impressive, but it’s a bit austere looking when compared to Big Mac, the Mackinac Bridge (pronounced Mackinaw)  that connects Michigan’s two peninsulas, which is the longest suspension bridge (anchorage to anchorage) in the Western Hemisphere.
     
    David B. Steinman designed Big Mac after his design for the Tacoma Narrows bridge was rejected and he successfully predicted that what became known as Galloping Gertie would eventually fail.  Since the Straits of Mackinaw can have very high winds, Steinman designed the road bed to be an airfoil, creating lift, while allowing wind to pass through the steel gridded inner lanes, balancing the lift. The bridge is aerodynamically transparent and can withstand a 150mph wind. When asked how long the Mackinac Bridge will last, Steinman reportedly said, “How long will the pyramids last?”
     
    BTW, I believe that Michigan is the only state that has two international bridges – Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge to Windsor and the bridge between the Sault Ste. Maries in Michigan and Ontario.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    The more official of the two reasons they needed the bridge is security – having trucks drive over Hoover Dam became a concern after 9/11. They’re now diverted pretty far south, which gives them a long trip to Phoenix. But it would’ve had to happen anyway. Hoover Dam provides one lane of traffic in each direction, and the twists slow some drivers down well below 20mph. There’s far too much traffic between Las Vegas and Phoenix for that to work.
     
    It’s a beautiful bridge. The concrete arch is done, so the cables have been removed and the flat deck is being installed over the arch. It fits the terrain as well as any bridge design could.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Oh, because I was wondering… I’ve seen arch bridges, and I’ve seen suspended bridges, but I’ve never seen a suspended arch. You never know these days. Good on you, civil guys, well done.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I sat in Sunday evening traffic coming back from Laughlin to Las Vegas…that particular highway goes over Hoover dam. The required slow driving across the dam, combined with the tourists walking around and puttering in and out of parking lots in their cars, caused more than an hour’s delay. The stops were long enough that we had lots of time to shut of the motor, get out, walk around, and commiserate with our fellow detainees. That bridge is <i>needed</i>, and the fact that it looks great is good too.
    Anyone who’s driven on the Oregon coast will have seen the beautiful concrete and steel arch bridges designed by Conde McCullough. There are around half a dozen of them, and they are designed to look good from below as well as from other angles, because at least some of them go over fairly long stretches of land that’s in use.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Consider $160M as a good deal. Our city’s new intersection overpass costs taxpayers $200M. And no, it’s nothing fancy. Just like any one of the millions of intersection overpass in North America.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Well it’ll certainly beat the view when you drive over the Humber Bridge in the UK… a muddy river, flatlands and Hull…

  • avatar

    Brooklyn Bridge 1st, Golden Gate 2nd, Mackinaw 3rd.

    honorable mention to the Ben Franklin.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      +1 Buickman.  Even though I hail from the Great Lake State, I endorse your list.  BTW, the Oresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden is pretty impressive at 10 miles long.

    • 0 avatar
      donkensler

      I’ll agree with that ranking.  I’m from the Detroit area now and grew up around Philadelphia, but the Brooklyn Bridge is just the most handsome, and the Golden Gate is in the most spectacular setting.  It’s good to see a shout-out to the Ben Franklin too.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    The USofA can still do it! Some things don’t have to turn a profit to be worthwhile.
     
    BTW, don’t forget our magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Yup, that  is a masterpiece.  Spotted  owls couldnt build that.  ;)

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Thousand Island bridge is my favorite.  Just knowing the weather those poor bastards built it in is enough for me.  As to traffic being slow on the Dam, wait until the base jumpers and the like get on this thing.

  • avatar
    buffknut

    John, you missed another international bridge in NY State.  The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.  It’s the preferred bridge crossing for many to get from Western NY to Toronto.  In all, Western NY has the 3 automobile bridges to Canada and also an International Railway bridge.

  • avatar
    AccAzda

    Holy sweet Maholy…

    I was just there this past year.. (got married in Vegas.)

    I have pics of this thign being built.. or at least the road deck was being worked on at that point.

    Nice to know its been finished..
    But in comes my insano fear of heights like this.. always nice to know that Im being held up by a coupla hundred lbs of concrete and steel.

    Christ.. imagine a fall from, that height…

    Oh yeah.. P.S
    DO tell me whats wrong with the original crossing… over the top of the dam?

    Ladies and gents lets go on the DAMN tour (a phrase I cant get out of my head.)

  • avatar
    50merc

    As Dinah Shore sang:
    See the USA in your Chevrolet
    America is asking you to call
    Drive your Chevrolet through the USA
    America’s the greatest land of all

  • avatar
    gsp

    Buffalo Niagara area has FOUR international bridges you can drive across: Peace Bridge (Buffalo), Rainbow Bridge (downtown Niagara Falls), Queenston/Lewiston (main trucking route) and Whirlpool Bridge (Nexus users only, no commercial traffic.)

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