FORT LEE, N.J. -- The Port Authority announced Monday that it will begin installing anti-suicide fences along the George Washington Bridge’s south walkway on Sept. 25.
The project, scheduled to be completed this year, is part of a $1.9 billion “Restore the George” restoration plan, officials said.
The south walk will be closed for the three months while a temporary fence is erected, but pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use the north side, which ordinarily is closed, they said.
This will temporarily inconvenience the cyclists, who will have to roll their bikes up a channel adjacent to a staircase to access the north walk.
The surprise announcement contradicts the authority's original statements a year ago this month that fences wouldn't go up until 2019.
The program to build 11-foot-high fencing along both sides also includes the replacement of the bridge’s original 592 suspender ropes, the authority said.
"The permanent sidewalk project contains ramps and ADA access that will provide cyclists with improved access to the bridge’s sidewalk and less obstructed navigation of the crossing," the agency said in a release.
"Once the temporary fence is installed on the south sidewalk by the end of 2017, the north sidewalk will be closed and work will commence on the replacement of the northern suspender ropes in 2018, along with the permanent safety fencing," the release says.
"Once the northern walkway opens, the southern sidewalk will be closed to perform suspender rope work and installation of permanent fencing on the southern side," it adds.
18 people have jumped to their deaths from the bridge each of the last two years.
So far this year, there have been 45 rescues -- which the authority calls "interventions" -- by Port Authority police of troubled people who planned or threatened to jump.
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