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Tue, Oct. 22

Sedona bridge to get barrier to stop jumpers

This undated file photo shows Midgley Bridge in Sedona, Ariz. Arizona transportation officials are close to getting approval to put a barrier on the bridge where people have jumped to their deaths. The Arizona Department of Transportation says the Sedona City Council will discuss the proposed barrier for Midgley Bridge at a meeting in July 2016. Four people died in 2015 jumping from the bridge.
Photo by Associated Press.

This undated file photo shows Midgley Bridge in Sedona, Ariz. Arizona transportation officials are close to getting approval to put a barrier on the bridge where people have jumped to their deaths. The Arizona Department of Transportation says the Sedona City Council will discuss the proposed barrier for Midgley Bridge at a meeting in July 2016. Four people died in 2015 jumping from the bridge.

SEDONA — A barrier that would surround the railing of a Sedona area bridge where people have jumped to their deaths is getting closer to construction.

The Sedona City Council will discuss the barrier proposed for Midgley Bridge by the Arizona Department of Transportation at a meeting July 26.

The agency is recommending a chain link-style fence. The fence and the current railing would make a 10-foot high barrier, according to ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann. The barrier will have 2-inch openings to “discourage anyone from attempting to climb the fencing,” Herrmann stated in an email Friday.

Other specifics are still being discussed, he added.

There was one suicide in the month of June, the only one so far this year. But four people died in 2015 after jumping from the historic steel arch bridge. That is twice as many as any other year in the past decade.

The mayor and the fire district in Sedona initially reached out to the state, which owns the bridge, and suggested fencing along it or netting between it and the rocky ground below.

Since then, officials have installed signs — one in the parking lot and two on the bridge — with a hotline for those contemplating taking their own lives.

The City of Sedona held a public meeting on the barrier last week.

Officials have expressed a desire for any preventative measures so the site doesn’t gain the same notoriety of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in northern New Mexico.

Built in 1937, Midgley Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is incorporated into Sedona’s logo. It spans a chasm off Oak Creek Canyon with a rock formation that resembles a steamboat in the background.

The Mental Health Coalition Verde Valley formed a suicide prevention task force for increased awareness of mental health issues and training on crisis situations. The group has been working with the community. They have spoken to school children, residents and organizations about the effects of mental illness and warning signs of suicide.

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