The Arizona Department of Transportation has made clear its desire to try to find a solution to prevent suicides at Midgley Bridge.
ADOT Director John Halikowski and staff members came to Sedona on Monday, May 23, to meet with city officials as well as those from the Sedona Fire District.
According to City Manager Justin Clifton, Halikowski said there are limitations as to what can be placed on the 77-year-old bridge because of its age. The idea of netting under the bridge has been ruled out, so the alternative will be some type of fencing atop the bridge to dissuade not only jumpers but people walking out on the bridge to take photos.
“The fact the director came up to discuss this matter speaks volumes as to their interest,” Clifton said. “I felt a strong spirit of cooperation and partnership. We’re always looking to work closely with other agencies.”
In a four-month span at the end of last year, four people — two men and two women— jumped to their deaths off the bridge. Clifton said Halikowski indicated that their desire is to have something in place on the bridge by the end of this summer. He also said a project like this should only take two to three days to complete.
“That surprised me,” Mayor Sandy Moriarty said in regard to how quickly this may be handled. “I was very happy to hear that because this something that’s been a long time coming.”
No exact costs were discussed, Clifton said. And while ADOT is willing to pay — since it owns the bridge — he said a financial partnership with the city and Coconino County is desired but not required.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on this during the last City Council meeting in June or the first one in July. Moriarty said that some have already complained that any type of fencing would obstruct views near the bridge.
“Quite frankly, I don’t care,” she said. “Lives are more important than a photograph.”
ADOT spokesman Steve Elliott said in April that as part of the agency’s commitment to develop and maintain a safe transportation system for everyone, ADOT is committed to working with the community to address suicides at Midgley Bridge.
“This collaboration has already led to a plan to incorporate additional suicide-prevention signs at the bridge, and together we continue looking for other possible responses,” he said. “Recently, ADOT representatives and city officials had preliminary discussions about potential changes to Midgley Bridge that, among other options, include the possibility of adding fencing. While fencing acts as an additional barrier and a possible deterrent, suicide prevention is a more complex issue requiring a broad response.”