Future of historic Rockville Bridge in question

The Rockville Bridge, Rockville, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of Rockville Town, St. George News

ROCKVILLE – The Rockville Town Council meeting was filled with concerned citizens Wednesday night to voice their opposition to losing the historic steel bridge that spans the Virgin River and links the two sides of Rockville.

Earlier in the week, Rockville resident Joe Motter posted a notice in the town post office. Motter wrote: “If you are concerned about having a new bridge built right next to the historic bridge then you need to come to this hearing and let your views be known.”

Rockville Mayor Dan McGuire called the notice “incendiary”.

The existing bridge not only links the two sides of Rockville, it is also the only access to the historic town of Grafton, critical communication towers for Zion Canyon, and the road to Apple Valley.

The future of the bridge came into question when the Utah Department of Transportation downgraded the capacity of the bridge to 14 tons. 

That affected the people on the other side immediately because the garbage truck couldn’t cross the bridge anymore and they lost garbage pickup service,” Councilwoman Pam Leach said.

McGuire observed that repairing the Eagle Crags Road may become a problem because trucks carrying fill material might not be able cross the bridge. The members of the town council were united in saying something has to be done concerning the matter.

McGuire said that in December 2012, he discovered an opportunity to apply for a federal grant to provide off highway bridges. The application had to be submitted by Jan. 12, 2013, which gave the town less than a month to prepare, and required specific information about the proposed bridge.

Time was a crucial element which we just didn’t have,” McGuire said.

Leach added: “We are approved for the funds if they become available. We’re making the attempt because we’re facing the possibility of that bridge becoming shut down. We are trying to look out for the residents’ best interests and safety.”

The problem is that the grant is currently written to fund a new bridge immediately upstream from the historic bridge.

This will happen unless the citizens of Rockville can persuade our town government to adopt an alternative plan such as a major rehabilitation of the historic bridge and/or a new bridge to be built at a different location,” Motter said.

McGuire said that the grant could provide $3.2 million and that normally the federal government requires the local government to provide 20 percent of the cost of the project, but that this grant only requires the Town to match 6.7 percent of the cost which puts it in financial reach for a small town like Rockville.

I don’t want to see the old bridge go away,” Councilman Bernie Harris said. “But even if we repair the old bridge, it will not meet the UDOT code for bridges.”

McGuire said a meeting would be held with UDOT on Sept. 13 to answer some of the questions and in particular to see if a way could be found to preserve the historic bridge. McGuire said simply telling the federal government to keep their money was still a real option as well.

Near the end of the meeting, Steve Cox, a candidate for Rockville mayor in the next election, asked for a round of applause for the town council and got it. McGuire asked for a recorded vote of confidence from the town council and the vote was unanimous.

A public forum concerning the future of the bridge will be held at 6 p.m., Sept. 24, at the community center at 43 East Main in Rockville. The forum will be followed by a candidate’s night at 7 p.m.

According to the Town of Rockville’s website, the bridge was built in 1924.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

The Rockville Bridge, Rockville, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Town of Rockville, St. George News
The Rockville Bridge, Rockville, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Town of Rockville, St. George News

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  • Butch Cassidy September 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Simple solution: Go ahead and put in a new bridge. Close off, but preserve the historic one. Now, wasn’t that hard to figure out?

  • Hairy A.. Longabaugh aka Sundance Kid September 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Tear down my bridge, I break your face, then shoot you!;)

  • San September 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I agree that doing one bridge next to another doesn’t negate the value of the older one. What the heck people? Can Rockville really stand to lose the $3.2mil grant? If they’re ready for that, then they must be willing to pay for the repairs via property tax assessments. Find a way to compromise in the design and allow the bridge. No brainer…..

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