RIVERTON — A century-old bridge succumbing to old age will be dusted off and refurbished and eventually will become a landmark feature of the Jordan River Parkway.

Called the Tithing Yard Bridge, the 100-year-old structure stands unused now, starting to crumble from years of use and eventual neglect.

Riverton leaders secured a $52,500 grant from the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation as part of the state's non-motorized trail program to renovate the bridge, which will be used as a pedestrian walkway someday.

"The reason why this bridge is very significant as far as Riverton is concerned is that we are a very traditional city," Riverton Mayor Sandra Lloyd said. "There is a tremendous amount of tradition, roots and stability in this community, and I believe those are the features that encourage people to come here."

The city had a choice to either rip out the bridge and replace it or fortify the existing bridge and preserve it.

For Lloyd, it was imperative to save the bridge, which spans the Jordan River and once served as the main gateway between Riverton and Draper. It's located at 12400 South and about 1100 West, not far from where Draper city plans to build a parking lot that will connect with a trailhead for the Jordan River Parkway.

Once used as a vehicle roadway, the 24-by-72-foot steel-framed bridge earned its name from nearby Tithing Yard Hill, which in the early 20th century was home to a stockyard, LDS Church granary and slaughterhouse.

Residents paying their tithing in goods rather than money hauled grain and other items across the bridge.

"People used to bring their oats, wheat and hay, and that is where they weighed it all out," Lloyd said.

Once at their destination, the materials were used to feed some of the cattle and other animals or stored to be sold to other communities, Lloyd said.

For many years, the bridge also served as the only way for Riverton and Bluffdale residents to cross the Jordan River into Draper and vice versa.

As part of the grant requirement, Riverton needs to match the money awarded by the state, so the total cost of the project is estimated at $105,000.

Officials figured it would have cost that much to tear the bridge down and build a new one, so history is being preserved at an equitable cost.

Like Lloyd, Draper resident Katie Shell is anxious to see the Tithing Yard Bridge restored, a project that should be completed within the next year.

"A lot of people think preservation is only about a fancy mansion," said Shell, a member of the Draper historical committee. "They don't realize it can be about a little cottage, or a roadway or a canal or bridge. There's a lot more to it. It's important to preserve where people walked, how they got their water and how they lived. Bridges convey part of that history. "

Riverton city engineer Leon Berrett said the restoration project calls for the installation of decorative lighting and benches.

"We want to make it a destination rather than just a bridge."


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