NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new construction project is underway at the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge. While the project is not meant to fix the roadway directly, it does aim to save lives through a suicide prevention measure.

According to the National Park Service (NPS), more than 40 people have ended their life at the double arch bridge since 2000. Now they’re working to add a barrier with a chain link fence and barbed wire at the top to prevent any further loss of life. 

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On Monday, the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge closed to pedestrians as NPS embarks on a major construction undertaking.

“This is a public health hazard,” said Mandi Toy, Acting Chief of Interpretation at Natchez Trace Parkway. “The bridge was declared a public health hazard by the Tennessee legislature back in 2019.”

While construction crews work to install the fence and barbed wire, the park service says it will serve as a temporary barrier.

Officials are working to come up with a more permanent solution they hope to install over the coming years. NPS will accept public input on design plans through June 17.

“Since 2000, the year 2000, we’ve had 42 completed suicides and those statistics are up until the first quarter,” Toy said. “It’s very sad. Suicide is a public health crisis and the Natchez Trace Parkway again takes it very seriously and so we are taking steps to try to prevent further loss of life.”  

During construction, drivers should expect 10 to 15 minute delays while the bridge is reduced to one lane.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you need help, please call 1-800-273-8255.