Lessons From the Hoover Dam Bypass, One of the Biggest Infrastructure Projects in Years

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When I visited the Hoover Dam for the first time this past January I was struck by how tiny and insignificant the massive dam looked when compared to the then-new 1,900-foot-long Colorado River Bridge being constructed high above it. Working from either side of the span, two construction teams met in the middle, 900 feet above the water, to finish a bypass that greatly reduces travel time between Arizona and Nevada. More impressively, the bypass was finished on time and on budget. Popular Mechanics put together a short blog post highlighting some lessons from the project, including "new roads are safer roads" and "big projects can leave small footprints."

Nowadays, people expect mega-engineering projects to be over budget--and, often, underwhelming. But the newly opened Hoover Dam Bypass is an example of big-ticket civil engineering done right. The roadway--which spans the Black Canyon 1500 feet south of the dam--provides a more direct route between Arizona and Nevada, cutting travel time by as much as two-thirds. The concrete arch of the Colorado River Bridge--one of nine new bridges--seamlessly complements the iconic Hoover Dam­, and its deck offers pedestrians a new vantage from which to view it. Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez describes the bypass as "a modern engineering marvel." Here's what the rest of the country can learn from the nine-year, $240 million project, which somehow came in on budget.

Read the full story at Popular Mechanics.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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