Council approves ‘Y-Bridge’ safety fencing; Family of suicide victim praises administration for helping save lives

June 23, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night gave the city the green light to start improvements to the All-America Bridge, including erecting over 10,000 feet of safety fencing.

By late summer or early fall, the city will begin hydro-demolition and resurfacing 23,500 square yards of the bridge deck, replace the modular expansion joints, make other repairs and begin construction on 10,400 feet of decorative safety fencing, railing and lighting along the length of the bridge from Perkins Street to Olive Street (see rendering below).

Two-way traffic will have access to one side of the bridge during construction, expected to last about one year. The $9.8 million project will be funded by federal economic stimulus money.

Families of Akron area residents who have committed suicide by jumping from the so-called "Y-Bridge" have for years urged the city to build safety fencing along the bridge. The city sought funding for the project after passage of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

When introducing the legislation, Public Service Committee Chair James P. Hurley III praised the plan not only because of the potential to saves lives, but because safety fencing is now required on any new bridges.

"If the bridge were built today it would be required to be fenced," Hurley (W-1) said. "It's long overdue, and it will help save lives."

Robert Conley, brother of the late Kevin Conley who jumped to his death from the bridge in 2006 at the age of 20, thanked Council and the mayor for pushing the project forward despite critics who questioned the expenditure.

"For those opposed to this, our family asks you to consider for one person that jumps, many more are grieving the loss of a loved one," Conley said. "We can now rest knowing that someone may not have to go through what our friends, family and loved ones have gone through."

Council will frame and present a copy of the bridge repair ordinance to the Conley family.