New Tappan Zee barrier to act as suicide deterrent

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A new barrier will be installed on the Tappan Zee Bridge after safety questions were raised when two people jumped to their deaths on the span within an hour Thursday.

NY Division Director of the State Thruway Authority Ramesh Mehta says the Tappan Zee has had 30 suicides in the last decade. Two of those incidents occurred Thursday on both the northbound and southbound sides of the bridge.

The Thruway Authority is looking for new ways to dissuade people who are suicidal from looking to the Tappan Zee Bridge as the answer. Mehta says the existing railing is very easy to jump. A new, higher barrier is being installed as part of the bridge?s deck replacement project.

Mehta says the reason a higher barrier hasn't yet been installed is because with the bridge's current deck, a higher railing would impede upon regularly scheduled inspection and maintenance projects. The new barrier is expected to be up by September 2009.

Four crisis phones on both sides of the bridge's entrances and exits were installed in August 2007 to connect those who need help with a crisis counselor. However, Mehta says the hotlines have yet to receive a call.2die jumping off Tappan Zee in 1-hour span

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