• The Mike OCallaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge opened a few miles from Las Vegas in 2010, 75 years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated neighboring Hoover Dam.

    Credit: FHWA

    The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge opened a few miles from Las Vegas in 2010, 75 years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated neighboring Hoover Dam.
Nevada is the second most mountainous state in the nation’s driest desert. Las Vegas is the site of natural springs, but until relatively recently the city was barely habitable, a tiny weigh station of 3,000 people between California and Salt Lake City.

All that changed with construction of the Hoover Dam beginning in 1931. Since then, three world-first public works projects made this mecca possible:

  • A dam with 3.2 million cubic yards of concrete, some of which is still strengthening thanks to 9-inch aggregate.
  • The world’s second largest concrete arch span, the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, has virtually eliminated congestion for motorists to and from Arizona and Nevada.
  • Tunnels through which drinking water flows to 2 million residents (and 40 million visitors) from an hour away.

Only on the drive to Hoover Dam do you realize how crazy and how brilliant these three projects were.

Last month, I was one of hundreds of World of Concrete attendees who got a first-hand look at these engineering feats from the professionals involved. That’s why every year these pre- and post-show tours almost always sell out.

World of Concrete is the only annual international event dedicated to commercial concrete and masonry construction. It’s owned by the same company that owns Public Works, so if you didn’t make the show have no fear: We’re sharing details of other events in these pages and at www.pwmag.com over the coming months:

  • The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge connecting Illinois and Missouri, the third-largest cable-stayed bridge in the U.S., which opened earlier this month.
  • Roller-Compacted Concrete Live (RCC Live). Attendees can watch a test strip being placed. We’ll be writing about how a Chicago-area public works department is self-performing RCC as a base course under asphalt in residential areas.
  • Pervious Live. Same concept as above, but with a different placement methodology. Of course, for public works departments, the real challenge surrounding this "sustainable" pavement isn’t necessarily placing it, but keeping it free of debris.

By the way, next year’s World of Concrete is Feb. 3–6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Hope to see you there!