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August 27, 2015

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Bridging America event draws thousands

Event allows spectators to take in view of Hoover Dam from new bypass bridge project

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Steve Marcus

Ian Anderson climbs a ladder over a jersey wall with his son Ryder, 6 months, at the new Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge during the Bridging America event Saturday, October 16, 2010. About 15,000 people were expected to attend.

Bridging America event

Scott Lester wears a temporary tattoo on his cheek at the new Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge during the Bridging America event Saturday, October 16, 2010. About 15,000 people were expected to attend. Launch slideshow »

Thousands of people showed up Saturday to celebrate the completion of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the centerpiece of the $240 million Hoover Dam Bypass Project.

The Bridging America event was the only chance for the public to walk on the 1,900-foot-long bridge’s roadway, which will provide a safer and faster route for U.S. 93 once it opens later this week.

It was also a chance for people to take advantage of the bridge’s unique view of the Hoover Dam, which is 1,700 feet upstream and 280 feet below the bridge’s deck.

Many of the people walking the bridge had a hard time describing their impressions, but used words like fabulous, marvelous, amazing and spectacular.

“It’s pretty awesome, we’re impressed,” said Jackie DuMond.

Like many Southern Nevadans, DuMond and her husband, Larry, have been following progress on the bridge with occasional visits to the Hoover Dam, but it wasn’t until they were standing on the bridge that they really knew how big it was, Larry DuMond said.

“We’ve got the picture as they’ve built the bridge over the years,” he said. “But it’s a lot bigger project up here than it looks like from the ground.”

Brad and Phyllis Mason, from Pasco, Wash., came to see the bridge while they are in town visiting their son and his family, who live in Henderson.

“This is our third or fourth time to come out here, watching it be built,” Phyllis Mason said. “This is a great engineering feat.”

“It’s amazing,” Brad Mason added, “But I’m glad I can’t look over the edge.”

(He could have looked over the edge, but he chose not to go that close, he admitted.)

Some of the bridge visitors said they still have at least one more trip to drive across the bridge once it opens to vehicles next week.

“We need to drive across then we need to go to the dam and take a picture of the bridge completed to go with the one we took up here today,” said Sondra Cosby, one of a group of 20 Summerlin residents who are members of the “Over the Hills Hikers” –emphasis on the hills, not hill -- club that came to walk on the bridge.

Fellow hiker Dave Haug said the bridge opening may be an excuse for a future road trip to Arizona.

“I can’t wait, I think I’m going to have to go to Kingman,” he said.

After the bridge opens to traffic on an unannounced day next week, people will still be able to walk across the span to admire the Hoover Dam, but will have to stay on a sidewalk that is only accessible from a small parking area near the dam.

Despite the large crowds and high temperatures many of Saturday’s visitors were impressed not just with the event itself.

“It’s awesome. It’s so well organized,” Cosby said. “They really took care of everything, the bus rides, the water, the stairs, everything.”

Hundreds of volunteers helped run the event, handing out free water bottles, souvenir pins and directing traffic.

“It feels great. It feels good to help people out,” said Angela Liriano, who volunteered with a group of friends from the Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas.

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