Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island) is calling on the MTA to expedite the installation of safety fencing on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge following a jumper earlier this week. (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- After a woman jumped from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge earlier this week, one local elected official is calling on the MTA to expedite an ongoing project to install safety fencing along the entire span of the iconic crossing.
In December 2019, following three separate incidents of males jumping from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the MTA installed roughly 100 feet of temporary fence on the upper and lower levels of the span as “a prototype installation meant to evaluate proof of concept.”
After evaluating the prototype fencing, the MTA announced last spring that it would install 28,000 linear feet of a permanent, high-strength stainless steel mesh fencing along the entire stretch of the bridge’s upper and lower levels.
That project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, but following Tuesday’s jumper, Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island), whose predecessor Steven Matteo long-advocated for the safety fencing, penned a letter to the MTA imploring the agency to expedite the installation process.
“We felt very strongly, Steve and I, that we needed to see one of these fences put on the bridge, and there were years of lobbying about whether it was feasible from a structural and financial standpoint,” Carr told the Staten Island Advance/SILive.com.
“Ultimately, they made the call to do this project that’s ongoing now. Clearly, it was the right decision for them to do it,” the councilman added. “It’s going to be a huge step forward once it’s completed, but I think that the events of this week underscore the need to proceed faster.”
The woman was captured on video jumping from the bridge on Tuesday, according to a source. But as of Friday, neither the NYPD nor the MTA had information about the woman’s identity or whether her body had been located. Both agencies told the Advance/SILive.com that the other was in charge of the investigation.
Carr said that the MTA has informed him that the project is slated for completion in November of this year, but that recent events have led him to believe the installation of the fencing should be fast-tracked to prevent any future jumpers.
“They confirmed to me that November is the expected completion date, and they expect to keep that timeline, but I indicated to them that I felt as though this added a renewed sense of urgency to the matter and that they needed to do what they can to expedite their work,” said Carr.
“My fear is that with one having done it now this year, it can creep into the ideation of others who are going through similar challenges and lead them to realize that is an option,” he added.
An MTA representative told the Staten Island Advance/SILive.com that the project is approximately 50% completed, with the agency expecting full completion by the end of the year.
“The MTA has prioritized installing the safety fencing on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and designed this project to be accomplished in the shortest amount of time possible,” said MTA spokeswoman Joana Flores.
In other efforts to prevent potential jumpers, the agency has partnered with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as Columbia University, to form a task force that is assessing the site and evaluating suicide prevention strategies to develop other potential mitigation measures.
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