US highway 93 was originally a two-lane highway connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix and crossed the Grand Canyon on top of Hoover Dam. Unfortunately there were hairpin turns on both sides of the dam and the dam itself could accommodate only two lanes, making expanding the highway impossible. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful drive if you were not in a hurry, but by the 1990’s, traffic had increased to the point that there were multiple-hour delays to get over the dam. A bridge was necessary.
And we ended up with the magnificent Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tilman Memorial Bridge . I’ve been fascinated by this bridge since i read about it during its construction. And then when they named it after Pat Tillman, that upped the ante considerably, since i’d followed the Tillman family’s exposure of the Army’s cover-up of the actual circumstances of Tillman’s death so they could use him as a propaganda pawn. Jon Krakauer, whose Into the Wild i greatly admired, published a book about the whole sordid affair, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, now on my reading list.
But yes, the bridge. Turns out you can’t miss it if you’re headed north by northwest toward Las Vegas on US 93 from Kingman because the old route over Hoover Dam has been closed and all traffic has been routed over the new bridge. You get a glimpse of the bridge as you approach it, but i saw no place to pull over and take a photograph.
And then once you’re on the bridge you can’t see anything because there are such high walls lining the roadway that only sky is visible on both sides. Yes, i understand that the walls were installed to prevent drivers from diverting their attention to the scenery rather than the vehicles ahead of them, but still. I mean, after all, we let drivers cross the Golden Gate Bridge without barriers to prevent them from glancing to the sides at Alcatraz and the Pacific.
Over the bridge and into Nevada, you get a chance to turn onto the old highway that is now the dam access road, and the narrow road with its steep grades and tight turns underscores just how necessary it had become to reroute through traffic over a new bridge.
And then i got to the Homeland Security roadblock and inspection zone. I guess i didn’t look suspicious enough, as i was waved through before i’d come to a complete stop. Yes, i recognize that the dam is one of America’s most iconic structures, which would naturally make it a target for terrorists, but then i wonder whether it could be destroyed by a car bomb. And then i realize that like much of our security, the security inspection here is set up mainly because it’s feasible. After all, the Golden Gate Bridge is, if anything, more iconic and certainly more fragile, but it’s just not practical to force traffic over it into a single file and stop every vehicle. So it gets no visible security.
The security check at Hoover Dam is really just Heimat Sicherheit propaganda to reinforce the fear of the citizenry, show what good care they’re taking of us, and keep us docile. Terrorist threat level Magenta, folks, so line up for another loyalty test. But once you pass that test, there’s a pedestrian/bike pathway on the west side of the bridge that is accessible from a parking lot off the road leading to the dam.
Spectacular views from the pedestrian pathway. A shot looking down into the canyon from near the foot of the bridge.
Looking down from the bridge into the canyon below the dam.
Here’s the road leading to the dam, as seen from the bridge.
And the dam itself.
And finally, the bridge, as seen from the parking lot at the east end of the dam.
A nonconventional shot from the dam.
A more traditional shot from the dam.
OK, a shot from the highway to the west of the dam.
And finally a shot out the window as i wound up the hill on the Nevada side: