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Park service wants public input on Natchez Trace Bridge barrier options

TRAVEL NATCHEZ TRACE
Posted at 5:10 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 18:13:05-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF)  — The National Park Service opened a comment period for those who want input on what barriers at the Natchez Trace Bridge should look like.

This comes on the heels of NPS announcing in 2019 that barriers would go on the bridge to prevent those from dying by suicide. A movement to prevent deaths from continuing to happen at the location ignited through grassroots organizing and media attention. Those efforts translated into the Tennessee General Assembly agreeing the bridge was a public safety hazard, signed off by Gov. Bill Lee that same year. A chain link temporary barrier will go up before the end of the year.

The current railing is 32 inches high, with the bridge standing 155 feet tall. To date, more than 40 suicides have happened at the bridge, the first in 2000.

Through all of the options, NPS leaders said they favored the first barrier option schematic dubbed Action Alternative 1.

"Action Alternative 1 consists of vertical posts with angled returns supporting woven stainless steel wire mesh," the report stated. "The design of this alternative minimizes change to the existing bridge barrier and minimizes effects on the crash-worthiness of the barrier. Action Alternative 1 would likely meet crash-worthy design criteria and not require crash testing. Action Alternative 1 is the proposed alternative and the NPS preferred alternative."

Two other options are also drawn out.

Residents who want a say have until June 17 to make a comment.