NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In what amounts to a big step to save lives at the George Washington Bridge, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will install a temporary fence to stop people from jumping to their deaths.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday, the bicycle and pedestrian walkway on the south side of the iconic bridge has a breathtaking view – but also a dark side. It is a magnet for troubled people thinking of ending their lives.
At one point starting in late July, five people jumped to their deaths from the bridge in the span of as many weeks. Four of them were under the age of 30.
There have been 74 deaths since 2013, and hundreds of interventions where Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police stopped people from jumping.
Officer Juan Guzman talked about it in a recent public service campaign.
“I had a 19-year-old female on the other side of the railing when I got there. My only option was to cuff her. She was that determined,” he said in the PSA. “If it wasn’t because I cuffed her to the railing, I think I would have lost her.”
While the Port Authority plans for a permanent 11-foot-high anti-suicide fence, it has decided to install a temporary one.
The south walkway will close for three months while the work takes place. The north walkway – normally closed – will open to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles.
But instead of the ramp on the south side of the bridge, bicyclists will have to take stairs while rolling their bikes up the metal channel.
“For the sake of my convenience, versus people jumping off the bridge, it’s probably worth it,” said bicyclist Chris Peck.
“I wouldn’t mind doing it for three months if it helps save someone’s life,” said bicyclist Milton Ramos.
CBS2 spotted engineers taking measurements Monday afternoon. The south walkway closes starting next Monday.