Wednesday, February 1, 2023

National Park Service adding barrier to scenic bridge to prevent suicides

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FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WSMV) – The National Park Service began construction on a temporary safer barrier for the Natchez Trace Bridge over Highway 96 in Williamson County.

More than 30 people have died after jumping off the bridge, according to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. Neighbors are hoping the barrier saves lives.

“I think hopefully that they will do something and make it still architecturally look good, but make it safe,” Suzanne Chaffin, who has lived near the Natchez Trace Bridge, said.

“Over the years we’ve seen lots of activity up there from time to time and it’s scary, and it’s so sad when you see people needing help and that’s the choice that they are taking,” Chaffin said.

Chaffin told News4 she has seen several people try to climb over the edge of the bridge and jump. She’s glad crews are building a fence on both sides of the bridge and hopes this prevents people from ending their lives.

“It is sad. I think it would be great, just safer in general. I think it would be good for anybody,” Chaffin said. “Lots of people go up there to see the view to take pictures. Just safety wise, I think it would be good overall.”

The safety barrier being built will be up temporarily. Construction is expected to last all summer and wrap up in September. Until then, the bridge is closed to pedestrians and is down to one lane.

“We are in the very early stages of planning for the permanent pedestrian safety barrier,” Mandi Toy, acting chief of interpretation for the Natchez Trace Parkway, said.

The National Park Service is asking for people to weigh in on plans for the permanent safety barriers. Construction for the permanent safety barriers should begin in 2024. Click to leave a public comment for the National Park Service.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you need help, call 1-800-273-8255.

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