A recent study provides an inventory of post-war bridges and identifies bridges that are historically significant.

Rare and beautiful: This bridge at 600 North Main in Logan is eligible to be included on the National Register because of it's high artistic value and rare type.


Many transportation projects require a state or federal environmental study process before construction. Part of that process requires the UDOT study team to consider the significance of the built environment. Bridges are often part of that built environment, along with other structures or properties such as homes, public buildings or sometimes the road itself.

One step in the environmental study process is to determine whether or not a bridge is eligible to be listed o the National Register of Historic Places.  The survey of post-war bridges will help UDOT during environmental study processes by providing a reference of National Register eligible existing post-war bridges.

The SR 95 Bridge over Dirty Devil River is historically significant and eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it represents "important bridge building practices of an uncommon bridge type in Utah after 1945."

Elizabeth Giraud, Architectural Historian in the UDOT Environmental Services Division had the responsibility of guiding the study process which was conducted by Mead and Hunt. A report of the study is posted on the UDOT Environmental Services website in three parts.

Volume l details the study methodology and purpose of the study along with a history of bridge construction that provides historical context for Utah’s bridges. The history section is interesting and very informative and well worth reading for anyone interested in bridge construction.

Volume ll contains a list of bridges along with criteria used for evaluation and a recommended list of bridges to be included on the National Register. Inventory forms for each bridge are also posted.

“People don’t often know what makes a property historically significant,” says Giraud. Just being “old” or “pretty” does not qualify a bridge for NRHP inclusion — three areas of importance must be considered and evaluated.

First, a bridge must be 50 years old. UDOT uses 45 years as the determining age to account for time between the end of an environmental study and beginning of construction.

Second, the bridge must be historically significant, “meaning that the features that render the bridge historically significant are still intact,” says Giraud. To have historical significance, a bridge must have examples of structural or aesthetic elements that show bridge construction trends or standards in place at the time of construction.

This railroad bridge south of Magna "is significant for its direct role in the transport and processing of natural resources by the Kennecott Utah Copper rail line."

Third, a bridge must have significance in relationship to historic trends, events or people or “be noteworthy for its type of construction or design,” according to Giraud.

Out of the 409 bridges evaluated, Mead and Hunt determined that only 32 were eligible for inclusion on the National Register. Next, UDOT’s Central Environmental staff will work with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office to formulate a Programmatic Agreement that will “further streamline the environmental process for bridges,” explains Giraud.

17 thoughts on “HISTORY MAKERS”

  1. Rob Wakefield

    Any idea where I could find out the details of Mead and Hunt’s evaluation, and which bridges were eligible for inclusion on the National Register?

  2. Bniat Atarim

    Bridges, like in London and many other European states, are very important to our history, and our way to see the technological advance we reached since then, starting from old and simple bridges that you can wonder how they hold up, to todays bridges that even massive storms cant eliminate.

    Even though you cannot compare the far England history to the USA one, it`s amazing to see where it all began as far of USA, and Utah state.

    Bniat Atarim.

  3. Catherine Higgins

    Rob, to see the individual survey forms for each bridge, follow the link above (third paragraph, the word “report”). The survey forms are interesting because they give details about each bridge. Incidentally, UDOT will have a similar evaluation of pre-war bridges soon. Check the blog or the Environmental Services website.

  4. Kaye Swain

    Thank you for a very interesting article. As a Sandwich Generation granny nanny I often help my grandkids with homework, including special research projects. As a result, I’m always on the lookout for interesting facts and articles that can be a help for them now, or down the road. I’m saving this article for future projects that are bound to come up since I have several grandsons who love building – with old and new LEGOs now, and perhaps with real bricks and metal down the road. 🙂 Thank you.

  5. Catherine Higgins

    You mean the Millau Bridge in France? It is beautiful. You are lucky if you’ve seen it — I have only seen photos.

  6. Catherine Higgins

    Thanks for your comment. I am not an engineer but since I work with lots of engineers, I know it is a fun and exciting profession. Let me know if you have additional questions about this or any other UDOT transportation topic. I will be glad to hunt down the answers!

  7. Mike Geary

    Catherine really enjoyed the article you wrote. I’m an architecture student and have a great fascination for bridges, in my free-time scale models of bridges. I find them fascinating because they serve to bring these places that had no access without and architectural models are fantastic. Again thanks for the article

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    Bridges, like in London and many other European states, are very important to our history, and our way to see the technological advance we reached since then, starting from old and simple bridges that you can wonder how they hold up, to todays bridges that even massive storms cant eliminate.

  9. Terri

    At what point does an old bridge become a safety hazard? I’m from Idaho and I know people are worried that the old bridges are going to collapse before they can be fortified.

  10. Catherine Higgins

    UDOT has a bridge management program that includes regular inspection to ensure that all bridges are safe. In Utah, UDOT bridges are replaced or repaired before they ever become a hazard to the public. One thing to keep in mind with old bridges is that just because a bridge looks old, it’s not necessarily unsafe. Cosmetic appearance and structural integrity are two different things. If you have concerns about Idaho bridges, contact them and voice your concerns. It’s likely they have a similar inspection and replacement program too.

  11. Mark

    Hey Guys,
    I’m a Project Manager in Australia and i just finished building my first bridge – gee i wish i could post a picture of it here! Anyways – i don’t know if mine will ever be a famous bridge as such but it does have a dual purpose… it is for an electrical 275kV cable to power the city of Adelaide but because of it’s location we needed to ensure there was some kind of community benefit and in this case we made it a walk over pedestrian bridge as well. It has been blended into it’s natural surrounding with the use of coreten steel but has the added benefit of modern lighting for safety at night embeded into the hand rails… it is so very cool. If there is any interest i’ll post the google earth location so you can check it out for yourself.

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