It was a weekend of epic historical proportions — at least it was for the more than 300 people who had an opportunity to travel on Interstate 11 before it opens this summer.
There’s just something special and exciting about being able to see something before most people. It’s what drew several people out early Saturday morning to ride their bikes or walk on an almost 6-mile stretch on the new interstate.
As a member of the media, getting a behind-the-scenes view or seeing something before it opens to the public is a fairly common occurrence.
Last year, I was part of a group of reporters who traversed a good majority of I-11 before any portions of it opened to traffic and while much was still under construction and unpaved.
I also had the opportunity to tour the new theater and arts classrooms at Boulder City High School shortly before they opened and walked through the new travel center at Railroad Pass as interior walls were still being put up.
Throughout my career, I’ve also gotten advance peeks at special events, gone on theme park rides before they officially opened, and spoken to countless officials about issues before anyone else knew about them. It’s just one of the perks of my job.
But I didn’t take into account how special Saturday was for those not in the media until I met a local resident who was proudly sporting a T-shirt from a similar event for the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, also known as the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.
And everyone I met along the route echoed the same sentiment. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something they would remember for the rest of their lives.
Young and old alike had smiles on their faces as they pedaled their bikes or strolled on the roadway.
But more than sharing that unique experience, the event brought people together. They waved at each other as they passed by, wished each other a good morning and sometimes stopped to chat. It didn’t matter what side of the political fence they sat on, who they supported in an election or where they stood on any controversial issue.
It didn’t even matter if they believed the bypass’ completion will help or hurt the community. On Saturday they were sharing a special experience.
Like many events and incidents in our nation’s history, they seem to take on greater significance when people experience them together. Consider things such as the bombing at Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Sept. 11 attacks, or the Oct. 1 shooting.
This doesn’t just happen for tragedies. Consider how events such as seeing a man walk on the moon, the opening of Disneyland, the legalization of gay marriage, the introduction of personal computers and cellphone technology have had a positive effect on people.
A stroll or bike ride on a new freeway attended by a couple of hundred people may not have the same nationwide or historical significance, but certainly it’s a step in the right direction for the people of Boulder City.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.