Visitors to Hoover Dam are beginning to see the new public works landmark taking shape about 1500 feet downstream. The Colorado River Bridge will connect the Nevada and Arizona sides of the new highway that will bypass Hoover Dam, and offer a magnificent view of the dam and lake.
On Sunday, World of Concrete attendees got a bird's eye view of the composite concrete deck arch bridge making its vault across the river. The bridge is expected to be completed in 2010.
Participants in the fourth-annual Editorial Tour met Jeff St. John, deputy project manager with contractor Obayashi/PSM JV, on the roof of the Hoover Dam Visitors Center for a project update. According to St. John, both sides of the bridge deck are 100% complete, and the arches are expected to meet in the middle this summer. In the end, the $114 million bridge will have two lanes on each side of the highway and a walkway across the bridge for daring pedestrians.
The project has had its setbacks, including damages caused by high winds in 2006, a recent jobsite fatality, and challenges of creating cast-in-place concrete arches 900 feet over a river. "We've learned that when you're working at a 45-degree angle, it basically triples the man-hours of working on a flat surface," says St. John.
Tour attendee Frank Kosliski, materials engineering consultant, has watched the progress of the bypass project since the first Editorial Tour. Kosliski, who has a copy of the bridge plans framed in his office, says, "When I heard about the bypass project, I knew this would truly be the world of concrete!"
Concrete historian Luke Snell also provided a brief history of the Hoover Dam, and a human perspective of the workers who helped build it. The men and their families often sought relief from the 100° F daytime temperatures by sitting in the river or visiting an air-conditioned movie theater nearby. According to Snell, workers endured harsh and dangerous conditions while earning between 45 cents (for drivers) and 75 cents an hour (for engineers).
For a full history of the dam's construction, Snell recommends reading Hoover Dam: An American Adventure by Joseph E. Stevens. The book is on sale in the World of Concrete Bookstore in the South Hall.
After Snell's presentation, attendees took a guided tour the dam, inside and out. They also received commemorative hats, courtesy of tour sponsor Sika Corp. (Booth S10115), as well as a boxed lunch.