Visitors aren’t bypassing Hoover Dam since bridge opening

One week after its major bypass operation, Hoover Dam appears pain free and ready to resume normal activities.

Though U.S. Highway 93 no longer runs across the top of the dam, paid visitation has held steady since the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge opened quietly on Oct. 19.

Officials at the dam are reporting a 2 percent dip in tour attendance, but a 13 percent jump in parking garage revenue during the past week, suggesting that Hoover Dam continues to be a draw, if mostly as a stunning vantage point to check out the new concrete-arch bridge.

Those early numbers look pretty good to Ken Rice, area manager for Hoover and the other federal dams along the lower Colorado River.

“We just didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said.

Some suggested that fewer people would stop at the dam because it no longer stands smack in the middle of the fastest route between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Others predicted increased traffic from visitors who previously stayed away because of all the construction and traffic congestion in the area.

Bob Walsh, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Boulder City, said it’s too soon to know which prediction might come true.

“Hoover Dam has been accessible as a highway route since the 1930s. It’s going to take a while for a new (visitation) pattern to emerge,” he said.

So far, one thing seems clear: People can’t wait to check out that new bridge.

Since it opened on Oct. 21, the parking area for the bridge’s pedestrian walkway has been jammed, especially during the middle of the day and despite the absence of restrooms.

“That’s been a very popular attraction, and we’re glad to see that,” Rice said.

The bridge walkway can only be accessed from the old stretch of U.S. 93 that closed to through traffic as soon as the bridge opened. That stretch of road, which also serves as the lone access point for the dam, can only be reached from the Nevada side of Black Canyon by way of a new highway interchange just east of the Hacienda hotel and casino.

Once motorists get to the dam, they are still free to cross the top of the structure, though the road is now closed just beyond the last parking area at the top of the hill on the Arizona side.

“We wanted you to be able to drive across like mom and dad did years ago,” Rice said.

There is still traffic on the old road, but it’s not nearly as heavy — or as constant — as it was when more than 4 million vehicles drove over the dam each year.

Tourists Ken and Cindy Woods of Florida decided to include the new bridge in their weeklong trip to Nevada after seeing a picture of it on the cover of Parade magazine. They stopped at the dam too while they were at it.

“I didn’t realize all this stuff was out here,” Cindy Woods said Thursday morning as she studied a plaque near the Winged Figures of the Republic. “It’s unbelievable.”

Friends Ernie Blair, Stew Brock and Art Davenport came for the opposite reason. After three trips to Las Vegas from Virginia, they decided it was time to finally see Hoover Dam.

“It’s just a lot of history to catch up on,” Blair said.

Brock said the bridge “was just a bonus for us.”

Reclamation officials are already planning several new exhibits as part of the transition from artery to attraction. One of them, set to open in the spring or summer, would allow visitors to explore an old machine-gun turret on the Arizona side of the canyon.

Walsh said about a half dozen such bunkers were built around the dam during World War II, but only one is left.

An interpretive display on desert bighorn sheep is also planned where the road now ends on the Arizona side of the canyon, which is an area frequented by the migrating animals.

Other, more radical ideas include renting out the building next to the Nevada spillway for weddings and business meetings and periodically closing the road on top of the dam for car shows, art festivals and other special events.

Walsh said such options exist now that “you don’t have the highway going across the top of your house anymore basically.”

The bureau also is contemplating new hiking trails down to the Colorado River and the opening of the Lower Portal Road to the general public. Right now, the road to the base of the dam is open only to reclamation personnel and permitted river outfitters.

Rice said Hoover Dam budgets about $12 million a year for visitor services from paying tour guides to maintaining restrooms. The goal is to recoup all of that money through ticket sales and other tourism revenue.

Ultimately, operations at the dam are paid for through the sale of power and water, so if the visitation program falls short of paying for itself, utility customers make up the difference.

“Visitation is important. You can’t run this facility without the visitors,” Walsh said.

Rice said there has always been a great deal of interest in the dam. He expects that to continue — and perhaps grow — now that the bypass is open.

“We’re still trying to figure out the bridge and our interaction with it. Like anything new, people want to come and see it,” he said. “But Hoover is that icon. It’s that piece that everyone wants to see and touch and be a part of.”

Contact reporter Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350.

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like