In many cases, bridges help keep people and animals out of certain spaces, and in most cases, they become a somewhat mundane part of the background. But could anti-climb fences help to save a life? That is what officials proposing a new fence for the George Washington Bridge are saying, even as some residents question the project’s cost.
The George Washington Bridge, located between New Jersey and New York City, has experienced a record number of suicides and suicide attempts this year, in spite of multiple warning systems put into place in order to discourage people from jumping. Midway through 2014, already there are 13 suicides and 40 rescues on record. For this reason, future plans for the bridge call for a nine-foot fence, which will replace the current railing. The project will cost up to $47 million and will be completed in 2022.
Many are concerned about the cost of the bridge. “It’s going to affect everybody both in New Jersey and New York,” said David Rosario of Palisades Park, concerning the cost of the project. Those in charge of the decision, however, say that multiple studies prove that a “removal of access” is an effective way to prevent suicide. Although many people believe that those looking for a jumping point will just go somewhere else, most experts agree that would-be-jumpers rarely come with a backup plan, and that gained time can help get the individual access to help.
Over the past several years, the Port Authority has taken multiple steps to cut down on jumping attempts, including the installation of surveillance cameras and hotline phones, as well as additional police patrols. Although there are multiple types of fences the Port Authority could choose to install, such as vinyl fences and wooden fences, they will most likely go for a chain link fence. Chain link fences will have the least impact on the overall view of the river — which was another concern of local residents — and metal fences are well known for their durability, which is an important quality for a bridge that will be situated along a major road and constantly exposed to the elements.
Do you think fences along the George Washington Bridge could help prevent future suicides? Let us know in the comments.