At approximately 7:30 this morning, a man began scaling the north tower of the George Washington suspension bridge that spans the Hudson River connecting New Jersey with Manhattan Island. In the middle of morning rush hour, route 4, route 46, and Interstate 95 into New York City were shut down as rescuers attempted to reach the jumper. Traffic was backed up for miles by the would be jumper. George Washington Bridge carries over 300,000 commuters to and from Manhattan every day.
The would-be jumper climbed the tower and scaled the cables. According to FOX news, jumpers from the George Washington Bridge usually stop on the bridge and jump into the Hudson from one of the two tiers of traffic lanes. This man’s climb up the tower and crossing of the cables was unusual, and the result of such an attempt could have ended with a slip that would land the man on the asphalt of the bridge. From the cables it is unlikely that a jumper would land in the Hudson.
Coverage of the jumper was aired on FOX news, via a channel 5 affiliate in New York City. The station’s weather chopper kept the man in view as he climbed the bridge tower, then began to cross the giant cables.
The port authority Police Department and the New York City Police Department had negotiators trying to talk the jumper down. In the meantime, a staging area was set up below on the bridge span. Police climbed the bridge attempting to get close enough to talk to the man. While the negotiators spoke with the man, an air pad was placed on the span of the bridge below the jumper.
The police successfully talked with the man, then escorted him to the top of the tower, where they took an elevator down. The police successfully diverted what could have been a tragic ending to this man’s life, and ended the disruption of New York commuter traffic in just over an hour. Kudos to the police for their succesful negotiations. The man will now be taken to a hospital where he can get help for the problems that drove him to this early A.M. stunt.
The George Washington Bridge was constructed by Othmar Amman with the assistance of architecture Cass Gilbert, who worked on the famed Woolworth building. At the time of its construction, the George Washington Bridge, then known as the Hudson River Bridge, it was the longest expansion bridge of its kind. The bridge opened in 1931, had cost $59 million to construct, and cost twelve lives. The $20 million dollar lower deck was built in 1959.
Today, the George Washington Bridge has the 13th longest expansion in the world. It has become an important part of the transportation between the Boston and Washington Megalopolis.
FOX News, live broadcast June 1, 2007.