To a safer Macdonald bridge

Construction starts next week on "safety barriers" to deter suicides

Construction starts next week to extend euphemistically named "safety barriers" across the length of the Macdonald Bridge, along both the pedestrian walkway on the south side of the bridge and the bicycle lane along the north side of the bridge.

The new barriers will match the existing barriers that extend only so far as the water's edge on both sides of the western end of the bridge. Those barriers were erected in August of 2007 in response to a lawsuit from the Department of Defence; the case file for the suit references repeated suicide victims falling on DND property and endangering DND employees.

Last year, Coast writer Matt Aikins won an Atlantic Journalism Award and a Canadian Association of Journalists Award for his piece "Adam's fall," which examined suicides from the bridge, and argued that suicide barriers should be extended across the bridge.

Subsequently, The Coast has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for statistics on bridge suicides. That request was denied, but is under appeal.

Bridge authorities assert that the new construction is unrelated. —TB

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