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‘A really great thing’: New bridge links Laughlin, Bullhead City

Updated June 7, 2024 - 8:54 pm

BULLHEAD CITY, Arizona — After decades of waiting, residents now have another option to cross the Colorado River between Laughlin and Bullhead City, Arizona.

The $60.6 million Silver Copper Crossing bridge opened to the public Friday with a party-like atmosphere, featuring a dedication from area officials, live music, food trucks and a parade of motorcycles and Corvettes.

The hundreds who showed up were in the mood for a celebration, as the new bridge has much to offer.

The bridge, built of precast concrete girders on drilled shaft foundations, crosses the river 8 miles south of Laughlin’s only other public bridge, the Laughlin Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1987.

The new structure is 724 feet long and stands 35 feet above the river. It features one lane of traffic in each direction and a multiuse trail on the south side for bicyclists, runners and walkers.

If future traffic volume warrants it, the bridge can be restriped to accommodate four lanes of traffic and the trail.

A 3.5-mile road named Laughlin Parkway was built on the Nevada side ahead of the bridge’s construction. Bullhead Parkway was extended from Highway 95 to the bridge on the Arizona side.

Laughlin residents can use the new bridge to further access shopping opportunities and medical services in Bullhead City.

“Unfortunately, Laughlin doesn’t have (medical) services; they don’t even have a grocery store over there,” Bullhead City Mayor Steve D’Amico said. “They come over here for all of their services. Especially on holiday weekends when traffic is jammed over here, now they’ll be able to come right through and get where they need to go.”

Residents on the Arizona side will also benefit from the bridge by having another option to access the Nevada side during times of high traffic.

“It’s going to be perfect when they have concerts going on in Laughlin,” Stephen Quinones of Bullhead City said. “Over on the other bridge, it takes forever to get across when concerts are going on. This is really going to improve that. And you never know, maybe this will bring more business over here. It’s a really great thing for Bullhead City and for Laughlin.”

Law enforcement and first responders will also be able to provide enhanced service having another way to travel across the river.

Transit services to improve

Michael Jackson, executive director for the Southern Nevada Transit Coalition and the Silver Rider transit service, said they have been waiting for the bridge to ease congestion on the Laughlin Bridge and create easier access to transit services run by Bullhead Area Transit on the Arizona side.

Silver Rider users have had to get dropped off at a dock and take a water taxi across the river to transfer to bus service in Arizona. The new bridge will allow for a more streamlined experience for riders.

“Not that convenient,” Jackson said. “So we’re going ahead and starting to plan the route.”

Aside from improving transit services, the new bridge will ensure Southern Nevada Transit Coalition employees, many who live in Bullhead City, will be able to get to work.

“There’s been times when there were situations on the bridge and our workers weren’t able to get to work,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of ways that this bridge is going to release that impact.”

The coalition’s paratransit service will also benefit from the new bridge, as D’Amico noted, medical care in Laughlin is limited, with most residents traveling to Bullhead City for health care appointments.

“They’re taking the disabled residents of Laughlin to their doctors appointments, to get groceries, to get basic life-sustaining needs,” Jackson said. “We can now service them better by using this bridge.”

Jackson said about 22,000 riders use Silver Rider’s fixed route service and 900 people use the paratransit service each month.

Federal funding for the new bridge was first committed in the 1990s, but work didn’t begin until November 2021.

Funding for the bridge includes $34.1 million from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada; $20.9 million from the federal government; $4.5 million from Bullhead City, and $1 million from Clark County.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft said he sees the bridge as an investment into the area. He is bullish on the potential development the new bridge could spur on the Laughlin side.

“I believe it will strongly pay dividends in the long run, because of that private sector investment that will come as a result of this project being built,” Naft said. “I have heard from and will continue working with those interested in investing in the area and look forward to the long term impacts.”

Mayor D’Amico said there’s also been high interest in developing the area around the bridge on the Arizona side, with one major project already in the works.

“There’s a big project on this side called Emerald Bay Resort,” he said. “It’s going to be a Jack Nicklaus golf course, with homes and a nice hotel.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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