Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Bridge in Town - Las Vegas, That Is

The formal name is: the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Mr. O'Callaghan was formerly a Nevada senator and Mr. Tillman left a promising and lucrative career in football to defend our country.

It's a by-pass bridge for the road that has run across Hoover Dam for as long as I can remember. Since 911, it's also been considered a prime terrorism target. Based on the length of time it used to take to drive across it, terrorists would have plenty of time to plant dynamite, make sure it's set right and then eat their lunch.

The by-pass bridge presented a tremendous challenge to the engineers -- it had to arch 900 ft. into the air and the two sides had to meet within 1 in. of each other!

Bridge construction started in January, 2005, and was expected to be finished at some time in 2008. But: on September 15, 2006 a tower that held the steel cable support system crashed due to a storm.

Recently the bridge was opened (with the requisite pomp and ceremony, you may be sure) and it is 1,900 ft. long and 88 ft. wide. How well did the spans match up? Within 3/8 in. (which was filled in with concrete.) That's some pretty amazing engineering!

You never realize how many times you bend over during the course of a day -- until your back goes out.

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