STATEN ISLAND, NY – MTA officials are “cautiously optimistic” that plans to install permanent suicide prevention fencing on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge will go ahead in the coming months.
City Councilor Steven Matteo (R-Mid-Island), who has long advocated for the installation of such barriers, wrote a letter to MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Daniel DeCrescenzo requesting an update on the project and urging the agency to move forward with its plans as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in course only exacerbated existing mental health problems.
“This crisis has also taken its toll on our collective mental health,” the city councilor wrote. “The sad reality is that as this pandemic continues and the desperation deepens, more and more people will attempt to kill themselves. That’s why we need to do what we can to prevent further tragedies – and that includes completing this suicide prevention barrier. “
The agency replied to Matteo at the end of last month, indicating that plans for the barrier remain on track despite the MTA’s current financial crisis.
“Despite the MTA’s enormous financial constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, construction of the security barrier continues to proceed throughout the procurement process. We remain optimistic that this design / build contract will be awarded in the spring of this year ”, DeCrescenzo wrote.
ABOUT THE BARRIER
In December 2019, the MTA installed approximately 100 feet of temporary fence on the upper and lower levels of the span as “a prototype facility for evaluating the proof of concept”.
Ultimately, the agency said it plans to install approximately “28,000 linear feet of high-strength stainless steel trellis” capable of withstanding exposure to high winds, the marine environment and weather conditions. elements.
The permanent fence would extend from Staten Island Anchorage to Brooklyn Anchor on both levels in the east and west directions.
The fence would augment the MTA’s existing security plan, which includes monitoring roads via closed-circuit television, patrols and helplines that connect to the NYC Well 24/7 Crisis Response Center.
HISTORY OF EMERGING INCIDENTS
The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge has a long history of troubling incidents, with the agency’s decision to install the temporary barriers in 2019 following a series of suicide attempts.
In December 2019, there was three separate incidents of men jumping from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. All three men are dead.
Last year, a 19-year-old woman sautéed Verrazzano on April 25 and was found dead on a New Jersey shore two days later, the NYPD said.
The woman, a Brooklyn resident, has been identified as Kristy Shi.
Police found Shi’s body on the shore of Weehawken Avenue and Bayside Parkway in Middletown around 9 a.m. on April 27, the NYPD said. Advance’s sister site, NJ.com, reported that the body was originally found early in the morning at this location by a passerby.
A week earlier, Marc Lamparello, a native of New Jersey who allegedly suffered from schizophrenia, jumped from the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge after being released from Rikers Island due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the facility, but was left without key psychiatric help for about a month after his release, according to a New York Times report.
Lamparello had first attempted to climb the 11-foot fence designed to prevent suicides on the George Washington Bridge three weeks after his release, but was arrested by police, according to the Times.
However, Lamparello then drove his car to the Verrazzano and committed suicide, a year after he allegedly drove into Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral and attempted to burn down the church, according to the report.