Today I picked up my usual Thursday copy of the Herald and read the front-page story about the new push to erect “barriers to suicide” from the iconic Natchez Trace bridge over Highway 96.
I live near that area and love that bridge and enjoy driving the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is carried to its termination over that beautiful bridge. I also know about and deeply regret the 36 suicides that have happened from that bridge since it opened 25 years ago.
That said, I would like to ask the readers and, indeed, all taxpaying Tennesseans, these questions, as food for thought:
1. Do folks know that Tennessee deaths from drugs (especially opioids) are going rapidly up and now run 1,837 confirmed deaths per year and another 98 suspected deaths per year compared with the deaths from “bridge-suicide,” which have averaged a confirmed 1.28 per year. The drug death rate is about 1,500 times the death rate from suicides off that bridge!
2. What is the estimated cost (to taxpayers) of the planned yearlong “design studies” to be undertaken by AECOM?
3. What is the planned cost (to us taxpayers) of the “suicide barrier”?
4. When will Tennessee taxpayers be allowed to vote on these planned big expenses?
5. Where will the spending of tax money for “barriers” end? Will we next see barriers erected over all the bridges on the Cumberland? On all of the Tennessee River bridges? The edges of the ravines in Fall Creek Falls State Park? Expensive “cow catchers” added at taxpayer expense to all trains, buses and Tennessee dump trucks? Big, expensive nets around all buildings and parking garages? Where does it end, folks, this spending of taxpayer money?
Average people here in Tennessee are not holding bottomless wallets overflowing with cash to build bridge barriers or put up nets while deaths mount rapidly from many other causes, like drugs.
I think it is time to look at other ways to spend our money and save lives. Federal money is a scam because all money the government has is first taken from us taxpayers, before being doled out to states to spend.