The number of persons who have committed suicide by jumping from the Duke Ellington Memorial Bridge was misstated yesterday. Since 1978, 21 people have jumped to their deaths from the bridge.
D.C. City Council member Frank Smith (D-Ward 1) said yesterday that he has asked Mayor Marion Barry to stop the installation of an eight-foot high suicide prevention fence on the Duke Ellington Memorial Bridge.
"I intend to stop this because it is not what we had in mind," said Smith, who held a press conference at the bridge yesterday. "The fence unnecessarily defaces a monument. We will find a better way to protect the safety of people who use the bridge."
Since 1978, 33 persons have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. Smith said he had agreed that a five-foot fence would help to prevent suicides but never approved an eight-foot fence.
Preservation and business groups filed a lawsuit against the city and federal government in an effort to block the fence, which they said would mar the "architectural integrity" of the bridge. The groups are waiting for a court ruling on their request for a preliminary injunction to stop the installation of fences on both the Duke Ellington Bridge, which carries Calvert Street NW over Rock Creek Park, and the William Howard Taft Bridge, which carries Connecticut Avenue over the park.
A spokesman for John Touchstone, the city's public works director, said that Touchstone has not received a request to stop the installation of the fence.