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February 15, 2007

Board Approves Purchase of Hotline Phones
for Mid-Hudson Spans
1st Step in Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Plan

Highland, NY – The Board of Commissioners of the state Bridge Authority officially approved the purchase of direct dial phones at four Mid-Hudson bridges today.

The hotline phones will link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and are the first step in a Comprehensive Suicide Prevention plan for the five Mid-Hudson bridges.  Lifeline will route a call to the nearest available 24/7 mental health clinic that can provide qualified crises counseling to vulnerable individuals.

The existing direct-link radio call boxes on the Mid-Hudson Bridge will continue to operate under existing service. 

The new phones are slated to be installed first at the Kingston-Rhinecliff and then the Rip Van Winkle, Bear Mountain and Newburgh-Beacon bridges.

“Since the tragic events late in 2006, we have put full-time effort into finding reliable and comprehensive solutions and sought the best advice of both state and national experts in suicide prevention,” Authority Chairman Jim Sproat said.

In January, the Bridge Authority announced it would unveil a comprehensive package in late February.   The announcement is now scheduled for February 22nd.

The cost for equipment is $166,040 and includes the phones, power systems and boxes that can withstand extreme weather conditions.  

The Authority will order the phones immediately upon board approval and plans to install the phones as they are received, beginning with the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.