No Bypass For Bridge Questions

The O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge opened to traffic last week, and we continue to receive questions about various aspects of the bridge, what you can and can’t do on the bridge and about the construction on the Arizona side that is causing delays we all thought the bridge would resolve. So, we’ll try to clear up some of those questions today.

Gary asks: We wanted to drive across the new bridge, but the traffic was so bad we turned around and came home. I thought the bridge was supposed to do away with the delays. What is going on along Highway 93 south of the bridge and when will it be finished?

Transportation types in Arizona have been repaving a 15-mile stretch of Highway 93 that was widened to four lanes of divided highway between Interstate 40 at Kingman and the new bypass bridge. Work has been delayed by recent storms and on Tuesday, some equipment broke down, according to Laura Douglas with the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Crews will finish paving the highway between milepost 10 and milepost 17 on Nov. 3, then begin working on the stretch between milepost 2 and milepost 10. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by the end of November. Douglas said to expect 15-minute delays.

Chris doesn’t really want to visit Arizona: If I wanted to drive over the new bridge just to check it out, say I did it, whatever, is there a nearby location in Arizona in which I’d be able to flip back around and head toward Nevada again?

I’m sure many motorists interested in checking out the new bypass bridge are wondering this very same thing. It is possible to turn around at Kingman Wash, which is a little more than a mile past the bridge. Just remember, although the canyon flanking the highway as you approach the bridge is beautiful, you won’t be able to see anything but concrete barriers once on the span.

When the bridge opened and the walkway across remained closed last week, law enforcement had difficulty keeping people from pulling over on the side of U.S. 93 and walking down to the bridge. To access the walkway, which is open to the public now, motorists need to follow the signs to Hoover Dam. Once you pass the security checkpoint, the parking area to the walkway is less than a mile away.

Ken asks: Who controls the bridge now that it is open?

The Bureau of Reclamation in Boulder City operates Hoover Dam but does not control the bridge. As bureau spokesman Bob Walsh explained, that responsibility is shared by the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

This from Richard, a crazed fisherman: Do I need a special license stamp to fish from our new bridge?

Really? This was my response to Richard: “You’d need a lot of line to reach the water 900 feet below.” And his: “I really know that! Need I say more?” No, Richard, no you do not.

Those overseeing the bridge anticipated and prepared for issues such as motorists slowing down in an attempt to get a peek of Hoover Dam or daredevils who might try BASE jumping, but apparently nobody really thought about fishing. I asked a couple of officials and the inquiry was met with a pause, then sort of an incredulous chuckle.

As I mentioned, the Bureau of Reclamation doesn’t have a say over the bridge, but even so, Walsh couldn’t help but nibble at the question a little.

“Nine hundred feet of fishing line blowing in the wind would make for some challenging fishing,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell kind of fish he’d catch anyway.”

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Fackrell summarized his supervisors’ response: “They laughed. You know you’d need 1,000 feet of line. … It’s never been addressed.”

Richard, the official answer is, no, you don’t need a special license because you can’t fish from the bridge. The bridge, like Hoover Dam, is in a restricted area. In addition, it is illegal to impede or cause a nuisance to traffic, which a fishing expedition might do.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Include your phone number.

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