SAFETY: MassDOT approves $663,000 barrier on French King Bridge to deter possible jumpers

June 3, 2016

The barrier as well as a security camera system are being installed to prevent people from jumping off the bridge

A $663,000 barrier intended to prevent people from jumping off the French King Bridge was recently approved by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

Along with the proposed barrier, MassDOT last week installed and began testing a web-based mobile camera system on the bridge to help emergency personnel gauge their responses to reported or suspected jumpers.

The bridge carries traffic on Route 2 over the Connecticut River. The road surface of the bridge stands some 140 feet above the surface of the river.

Over the years, dozens of people have jumped from the bridge, prompting rescue and recovery responses by state police and public safety personnel from Montague, Erving and Gill.

The camera should be able to confirm whether a person has actually gone over the rail and whether a rescue or recovery effort should be launched.

The issue of cameras and other safety measures were first discussed about three years ago, when area public safety personnel met with MassDOT officials to discuss the issue.

MassDOT has posted "no trespassing" signs on the bridge truss to allow police officers to enforce people staying off of the structure beneath the bridge deck. Improvements have also been made to secure the bridge's catwalk system to deter unauthorized persons from accessing the underside of the bridge.

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