County News

Praising the state for its timeliness in the matter, the Sedona City Council unanimously approved a design concept to help prevent suicides off Midgley Bridge.

The vote came at the Tuesday, July 27, meeting that took all of 22 minutes.

Earlier this year, Mayor Sandy Moriarty — as well as the Sedona Fire District and Coconino County — sent letters to the Arizona Department of Transportation requesting that measures be taken to install some type of suicide barrier on the bridge. Midgley has been the site of five suicides — three women and two men — since August of last year.

Because ADOT owns the bridge, the city, county and SFD can only provide input on the matter.

According to a city report, council is also being asked to consider a future financial contribution, however, at this time ADOT has not completed the design for the barrier, so it does not have a cost estimate based on a completed design.  

Once the construction costs are determined, council would be in a better position to discuss a possible city contribution to the project. For that reason, this portion of the discussion will be brought back to council at a later date.

ADOT is planning to place a 7-foot-high fence atop the existing 3-foot-high concrete barrier along the length of the bridge, which is 77 years old and is a national historic landmark.
ADOT engineer Jesse Gutierrez was at the meeting and thanked the local agencies for their input on the matter.

“We looked at the statistics and they’re very alarming,” he said. “Our director decided this was something that needed to be done relatively quickly. Regional support [city and county] is critical in moving this project forward.”

Gutierrez said work on the bridge is expected to start shortly after the Labor Day weekend and will take 10 days to complete. During that time, traffic over the bridge will be limited to one lane.
As for the type of fencing that will be used, Gutierrez said it is not what some may think nor is it what was depicted in the artist rendering supplied earlier this month from the state.

“It will not be a standard chain-link type of fence,” he said. “It will be some sort of netting, or mesh-like, that you can’t climb on. The U.S. Forest Service has requested that it be brown, which would blend in. We want to get this in so we’re not going to go back and forth as to what the color will be. In other words, I’m not going to argue about the color of the fence because we want to get this installed right away.”

Moriarty said she wanted to thank the state for acting quickly on this matter.

“I was really not expecting that to happen,” she said. “We want to thank you and the director for giving us so much support.”


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