Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hoover Dam Bridge Bypass

This is the main section of the Hoover Dam Bypass bridge, constructed in sections on each side, building toward the middle. After design, the bridge took from 2003 to 2010 to build, opening in October of that year. This single bridge is only part of the project that included other, smaller sections of bridges, about 2 miles worth. This section is about 900' over the Colorado River about 1500' south of the dam. There is a pedestrian walkway on the dam side of the bridge, of which I walked the entire length. I really do not like heights, but it was a wide walkway, with a high concrete barrier between the traffic and the walkway. On the outside, a very sturdy, high railing. I still was a bit nervous standing there at the edge looking down at the scenery. All the towers you see are cantilevered off the sides of the rock mountains, ensuring that the cables, some multiple inches thick, do not touch anything.

The Hoover Dam has 17 turbines, which are 45' tall, power generators capable of producing 4.5 billion kilowatts a year, generating at 180 RPM. During the tour we were told that the main reason for the dam is water dispersement, and that power is the by-product. We were told that not all of the generators run all the time, possibly only 7-8 would be run at once. I'm not sure if there is not that much demand for the power, or it would be overload. The turbines are shown below, if you look closely on the left side, you'll see a worker checking the gauges.
The dam supplies water to more than 20 million people in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and many other large cities and Indian communities in Arizona, Nevada and California. Power is also delivered from the dam to those areas. The sale of this power finances the operation and maintenance of the power generating equipment.
The are miles of tunnels underground for servicing the dam, all constructed back in the 1930s by blasting and the use of jackjammers.

This pipe is 50 in diameter and was part of the original diversion plan to divert the Colorado River from its normal course so the dam could be constructed. It is now used to bring water in to power the turbines for electricity.

This shiny steel pin is what held those sections of pipe together. They certainly didn't use cheap material, and the whole project was built to last.

I had a fun morning walking the bridge and then doing the tour. It sure was an amazing project, and it was built before more modern equipment could have made it easier.


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