Archived Story

Grant awarded for bridge

Published 12:03am Saturday, August 20, 2011

NATCHEZ — City officials nearly shrieked with joy over news of funding for the Bridge of Sighs.

Under the National Scenic Byways Program, the Federal Highway Administration awarded the City of Natchez a $100,000 grant to go toward rebuilding the Roth Hill Bridge of Sighs, City Engineer David Gardner said.

It was like the “icing on the cake” to the Natchez Trails Project, he said, as it would make the overall trails experience better by linking the north and south sides of the bluff for pedestrians.

“It puts a ‘wow factor’ on the trails,” Gardner said.

An old Bridge of Sighs, which is based off of a bridge in Italy, stood from the 1850s-1900s, Trails Committee member Kathleen Jenkins said, and its remnants can still be seen on either side of the hilll. However, that bridge was made of wood, and the new one the city plans to build will be made of steel, Gardner said.

The committee started thinking of the idea of building a bridge in March when they were coming up with the designs for the plaques for the trails, Gardner said, but at the time, the funds just weren’t there.

But through research, Tourism Director Connie Taunton, who is also a Trails Committee member, found grants that coordinated with the bridge’s purpose, Gardner said.

Mayor Jake Middleton said the city is still waiting on a second grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks before the bridge can truly come to fruition in the way it’s planned, but for now, they’re excited to have been awarded the FHA grant.

“It just goes to show that there are opportunities out there to succeed if you just make the effort,” he said.

Gardner said the total cost of the bridge would be $155,500, and it would span 110 feet. If the second grant were secured, he said, he would have enough money to really “dress it up” by adding things he hadn’t initially accounted for in the budget, like lights, for example. If the grant is not received, he said, the city will still move forward with the construction, but the bridge wouldn’t be quite what he’s imagining.

Depending on whether the second grant is awarded, Gardner said, construction could begin as soon as March.

Jenkins said rebuilding the bridge is like rebuilding a piece of time.

“It’s exciting in terms of recapturing a historical piece of Natchez, and it adds a quality of excitement for people who walk the trails, because the view will be unprecedented,” she said.

  • Anonymous

    Wonder what kind of sound they will make when a triple digit recession hits over the national debt soaring higher than any time in history..

  • Charles Thomas Kelly

    please build it with truck clearance.

  • Joe Stutzman

    “bridge of sighs,” -is that what the bridge in italy is called?  if so, do you know why?  if not, why was this one so called?

  • Wilson Phillips

    I doubt it will sound anything like Robin Trower’s guitar.

  • Anonymous

    Sigh, don’t spoil their fun with forward thinking such as this.

  • Anonymous

    I have my fingers crossed for the second grant to come through. Lights would make it look spiffy!

  • Anonymous

    Its called that because when it was built Italy’s economy was in shambles much like ours is today.  When the people saw the government spending money on another project that was not of highg importance they just “Sighed” and said thats it.  They voted all the leaders out and turned the economy around and lived happily ever after.  (Not true but it makes me feel better saying this) lol

  • Anonymous

    “The Bridge of Sighs (Italian: Ponte dei Sospiri) is a bridge in Venice, northern Italy . The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was designed by Antoni Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge), and built in 1602.
    “The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals. In addition, little could be seen from inside the Bridge due to the stone grills covering the windows. The bridge is currently covered by advertisements and the view is disappointing.
    A local legend says that lovers will be granted everlasting love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the bridge.[1]”

    How did this bridge come about in Natchez?

  • Anonymous

    More free money! yeah!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    But this is free money?????

  • Anonymous

    Free money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Lets see how can we spend all this FREE money!

  • Anonymous

    I have personally crossed the “Bridge Of Sighs” in Venice….  From what I recall, it was like an enclosed walkway (it was 1987 when I went through it)… I remember the story of the prisoners last glimpse of Venice before being escorted away to their cells. Beautiful architecture……  I’m under the opinion, if we can’t build it right @ the very begining, why even start, instead of doing it 1/2 way….

  • Anonymous

    I’m just wondering about the history of this bridge being in Natchez that they want to suck up grant dollars to “rebuild”.