For years now, residents from all over our region in Vermont and New Hampshire have been calling for safety upgrades to the notorious Quechee Gorge Bridge after eight suicides since 2008. Now, those safety improvements will finally come to fruition as a recent bill passed by Vermont’s House and Senate merely awaits Governor Shumlin’s signature to enact the measures.
On Friday, the House and Senate passed this year’s transportation funding bill, which affects the bridge by enacting a study of possible barriers or emergency communications on the span.
The bill was introduced and drafted by Representative Teo Zagar from Barnard, calling for an inspection and analysis of possible safety measures, and The Valley News reports that the discussion for safety on the bridge truly began in 2011 when a 21-year old Hartland student jumped to his death.
If approved, the bill would mandate that the measures be installed by July 1st, which would not only attempt to reduce or eliminate the number of future suicides, but would subsequently increase the safety of emergency responders and tourists.
Both legislative and community input has stressed the need to focus on mental health, as it is believed to be a main factor in the eight suicides at the Quechee Gorge since 2008.