Rockville receives $100K in legislative funds for bridge restoration

The Historic Rockville Bridge spans the Virgin River from north to south leading to the ghost town of Grafton or connecting to Gooseberry Mesa, Smithsonian Butte and state Route 59, Rockville, Utah, April 29, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, and with support from Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and Preservation Utah, the town of Rockville’s request for an appropriation in the amount of $100,000 for the restoration of the town’s historic bridge was approved by the Utah Legislature.

The Rockville Bridge in 1995 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society, St. George News

The appropriation was part of the ‘Current Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations’ bill, designated as HB 3 in the 2017 Legislature. The bill passed the House on March 6 by a vote of 67-8 and the Senate on March 7 with 29-0. As of Wednesday, it is awaiting Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature.

The town has successfully raised the matching funds required by the federal grant to complete the restoration of its beloved bridge.

A total of $70,000 was raised toward the federally-required match of $169,250. This included individual donations, grants and a variety of special events planned by the Historic Bridge Fundraising Committee. The state showed its support by joining in the preservation of this historic bridge with the $100,000 appropriation.

The Rockville Bridge was built in 1924 with federal funding to Zion National Park to provide a transportation link between national parks in Utah and Arizona. This 217-foot steel bridge is the last remaining Parker through truss bridge in Utah, and in 1995 it was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The bridge has served visitors and residents of Rockville and Zion Canyon for over 90 years and has many years of life left.

Rockville is a town of only 247 residents. It has deep roots in the pioneer spirit that built this state. Rockville has chosen to continue that tradition by remaining primarily a residential and agricultural community. Restoration was the favored choice of community members.

“The town of Rockville is extremely grateful to the state Legislature for partnering in our efforts to preserve a piece of Utah history,” Mayor Pam Leach said in a press release.

Rockville Plein Air Invitational Flier | St. George News, Click on flier to enlarge

Fundraising efforts will continue to ensure a preservation maintenance fund for the bridge.

Continuous fundraising efforts include the upcoming “Plein Air Invitational” April 27-29.

Sixteen professional plein air artists will paint images of the bridge and surrounding community. The public is invited to mingle with the artists and observe their creative process.

In addition to artists painting plein air in and around Rockville over three days, Susan Bingham, with the Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts, will provide an informative and engaging lecture April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Historic Rockville Church, 43 E. Main St. Attendance to this event is free, but donations are welcome.

On April 29, live entertainment, drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be provided at the artist and collector reception at 6 p.m. This will be at the Historic Rockville Schoolhouse, currently the residence of Larry McKown, located at 38 E. Main St.

Also on April 29, a Wet Paint Sale will take place across the street in the Rockville Community Center starting at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the art sales will benefit the Bridge Fund.

Attending either the reception or the sale on April 29 will require a minimum donation of $20 per person. All contributions to a municipality for public works are tax deductible.

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