County News

The Arizona Department of Transportation is moving forward with its plan to help reduce the number of suicides off Midgley Bridge.

ADOT has agreed to place a suicide prevention barrier on the bridge as early as September in order to prevent further loss of life. Previous community efforts to prevent suicides at the bridge included posting signs with a local suicide hotline, along with community awareness and outreach.

As a result of Midgley Bridge being the site of five suicides since last August, and since it’s just outside of city limits on State Route 89A, Mayor Sandy Moriarty urged a partnership between ADOT and the city of Sedona.

On Thursday, July 7, the city hosted an open house at which time an architectural rendering of the bridge was on display with the added fencing. The discussion was led by ADOT engineer Audra Merrick, who said the bridge itself is 240 feet long but the fencing will span a total of 374 feet.

“Because of the bridge’s age, we needed to minimize both the wind loading and the weight being added,” she said.

She said the fencing needs to allow wind to pass through freely similar to a volleyball net. She said if the fence were solid — or nearly solid — it would in essence be like an umbrella in the wind.

For now, the chain-link fence will have 2-inch holes to allow the wind to pass. A concern raised at the meeting was whether or not the holes would still be large enough for people to use them as foot holds, enabling them to climb the fence. That is one of many issues that will be discussed by the Sedona City Council on July 26.

A final design will be approved by ADOT followed by a construction cost with the project proceeding from there. Merrick did not state when the project could get under way or how long it would take.

The current concrete barrier that runs the length of the bridge is 3 feet, 7 inches high. The fencing will add an addition 6 feet, 5 inches, making it a total height of 10 feet. There is a possibility of placing some type of barbed or razor wiring at the top of the fence to deter anyone from climbing it, Merrick said.

It was originally thought that the fencing would curve in near the top, similar to what can be seen on overpasses in larger cities.

“We looked into that but the fact that the width of the bridge is just 24 feet, if we were to taper the bridge at the top, it would catch taller vehicles as they go by,” she said.


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