|Enter The Bypass
Around the City That Built Hoover Dam
A Chat With Senator Richard Bryan
by Ev Chase
Richard Bryan is a former two-term United States Senator from Nevada. Currently he is heading the Washington D.C. office for the prestigious Las Vegas law firm of Lionel Sawyer & Collins.
The City of Boulder City has retained the services of the firm as a representative in matters related to the U.S. Highway 93 bypass of Boulder City.
Although he appears before the City Council to makes his reports, Senator Bryan accepted my request to provide information to readers of BoulderCity, The Magazine.
Bryan became associated with the law firm of Lionel Sawyer & Collins shortly after leaving the United States Senate and returning to Nevada. An organized group of citizens were interested in making sure the new highway to the dam, which was being considered by the principals involved, did not go through the center of town. They retained Lionel Sawyer & Collins to help them make sure it didn't.
"There were at least two options which would have literally carved a wide swath through the existing highway or Hemenway wash area," Bryan says. "They were very concerned."
Since then, the City of Boulder City has enlisted the help of the same law firm to represent it's position as the move to final decision lumes closer. Bryan is still carrying the ball for the same issue.
Most of the action occurred in 2002 with dozens of locals voicing their opinions about which route traffic should take to travel through or to miss Boulder City. It definitely was a house divided.
Four options were considered:
A- No Build Alternative
B- Improvements to the Existing US 93 Alignment
C- New Through Town Alignment
D- Southern Alignment
A fifth option, named Route E by at least two of the locals, was not considered. Route E is highway 95, the road to Laughlin, NV which now carries the truck traffic around Boulder City.
Route E is currently in the process of being widened, but it is still not a viable option according to Richard Bryan.
"It's speculation on my part. I'm no longer a policy maker, but I would imagine the American Trucking Association and their lobby will argue ferociously once the bridge is completed.
"Look, the reason you diverted us was because of safety concerns, so I think the probability is that the traffic which was previously diverted will be back on the new bridge crossing."
The problem as far a local residents are concerned, is we are concerned with local problems such as traffic through town, over crowding through the streets of Boulder City, truck accidents at the stop lights, and a loss to business community.
"I became involved with this issue shortly after leaving the Senate. There was a group of citizens in Boulder City who organized themselves and were very much interested in making sure the new highway did not go right through the middle of town. There were at least two options which would have carved a wide swath through the existing highway or through the Hemenway valley area."
Bryan explains that much of the problem which came about as far as the locals were/are concerned is because of the confusion between the Dam bridge, the approach to the bridge, the traffic it generates, and the so called NAFTA highway.
To put the categories in a nut shell, it amounts to three separate issues, not one of which Boulder City residents have any control - The US Highway - Bureau of Reclamation Dam - and the bridge.
Not so according to Bryan, referring the to Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process where the city and its people had an input that brought forth support for option D the southern alignment.
"EIS was designed to force the consideration of alternatives - the very process that occurred in Boulder City. One may not like the result and disagree, but the process is alternative A B C & D.
Bryan points out that much of the current problems related to traffic and the dam were foreseen many years ago.
"The genesis for this goes back 25 years when I was Attorney General," Bryan says. "I can recall talking with Bob Broadbent and others who were concerned about hazardous materials crossing the dam and on the switchbacks approaching the dam.
"In addition, it is higher than likely there still was going to be an enormous increase in traffic."
Bryan says the history is, there is going to be a new dam bridge, the funding is virtually in place, the construction is occurring with respect to the approaches, and concurrently with that is the highway.
"As I said before, there is no categorical linkage between the highway and the dam, because there would be a need for an expanded highway capacity even if the new dam bridge were not constructed."
Further, Bryan points out there was an overwhelming consensus of the community supporting option D, but these issues take time.
Oh well, I've always been able to out run Richard Bryan, but I've never been able to out debate him. Thanks Dick.