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Connecting the Mountain West

Phoenix and Las Vegas remain the two largest proximate metropolitan areas in the United States not connected by an Interstate highway, but a major improvement to the corridor is about to come on line.

The Hoover Dam Bypass, set to be dedicated Thursday, will take through traffic off the top of the Hoover Dam and onto a new four-lane bridge over the Colorado River.

The dam top crossing has always been a chokepoint, with heavy traffic mixing with the scads of tourists who visit the dam annually. Additionally, the approaches to the dam from both Arizona and Nevada contain steep grades and multiple gear-grinding switchbacks. Worse still is that the Hoover Dam is a nationally significant piece of strategic infrastructure—following 9/11, truck traffic was barred from the crossing and security checkpoints were established.

Big picture, the $240 million bypass represents the further necessary knitting together of the Mountain West’s megaregions and will be a key piece of the envisioned Interstate 11 that leaders in both Nevada and Arizona have advocated.