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Rockville Bridge

Published in Current Projects

Background Information

bridge facing north1

In March 1923, Zion National Park was allocated a federal appropriation to identify park roads, including $40,000 to construct a bridge on public land outside of the park boundary; the Town of Rockville was selected for this structure. Spanning the Virgin River, this single-lane, 217-foot rigid-connected Parker through truss bridge was constructed, consisting of twelve panels in a single span of steel truss supported by concrete abutments.

The Rockville Bridge performed a valuable role in the development of tourism in southwest Utah. For early park visitors, it cut 33 miles off the trek from Zion National Park to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is the last surviving Parker through truss bridge in the state. Incorporating distinctive characteristics in its method of construction, it is architecturally and technologically signifcant. The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

The Town of Rockville is considered a rural, residential, and agricultural community, with only 247 residents. Since its founding by Mormon pioneers in 1862, Rockville has maintained the integrity of its historical town plan and has been referred to by historians as "Utah’s last treasure". Rockville has little commercial activity, so the tax base is primarily small.

Town Park Mural

Today the bridge serves Rockville homes on the south side of the Virgin River and recreationists accessing Gooseberry Mesa and Smithsonian Butte. Tourists, as well as historians, cross it daily to visit the Historic Town of Grafton. Rockville faces many challenges from tourism and recreational impacts, with over four million visitors annually descending upon this narrow canyon. The Rockville Bridge is a treasure and important architectural structure. It should be restored and protected for future generations.

Everyone in the community of 247 has been engaged in volunteer fundraising efforts led by Mayor Pam Leach, the Town Council and a volunteer Fundraising Committee. These include rubber ducky races, art exhibitions and auctions, change collection jars, the receipt of several grants and many other activities.

In late 2012, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) completed a detailed inspection and evaluation of the Historic Rockville Bridge. Their inspection revealed signifcant deterioration and the load rating was downgraded to 14-tons. Plans were made to replace the historic bridge with a new two-lane bridge using Federal funds. In 2013, the Five County Association of Governments conducted a survey of all Rockville residents and property owners. With a 57% response rate, 74% indicated a preference to restore the existing bridge.

On bridge facing east upstream

As a result, in 2015, the Town petitioned the Joint Highway Committee to alter the scope of work from a new twolanereplacement bridge to a full rehabilitation of the existing bridge. This rehabilitation would increase the load rating to its original 25-tons and add approximately 45 years to the life of the existing structure. Following a comprehensive feasibility study by Michael Baker International (SLC), and given the support of local citizens, the Joint Highway Committee and Utah’s Transportation Commission approved the change to rehabilitate the Historic Rockville Bridge in June 2016.

How You Can Help

DONATE
Visit the official Historic Rockville Bridge webpage to or go straight to their payment page to contribute by credit card, or mail a check to the Town of Rockville with “Bridge Fund” in the memo section, and mail to P.O. Box 630206, Rockville, UT 84763. All donations to a municipality for public works are fully tax deductible.

Additional Information

One-page summary produced by the Town of Rockville, January 2017

Rockville Truss Bridge Rehabilitation Feasibility Study, Michael Baker International, February 2016

News article in The Spectrum, Rockville Wins Push to Rehab Bridge with Federal Funds

Rockville Bridge Facebook Page

The Washington County Historical Society web page on the Rockville Bridge

 

Bridge upon completion

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