Locks of love: Displays of affection adorn bridge

Published 12:16 am Thursday, April 14, 2016

NATCHEZ — Natchezians are declaring their love by placing padlocks on the Bridge of Sighs, and Natchez Public Works hasn’t figured out exactly what to do about it.

The Bridge of Sighs in Natchez spans Roth Hill Road, allowing pedestrians to pass over as they use the walking trails along the bluff.

The bridge is named for a famous bridge in Venice, Italy.

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On many bridges in Europe, young lovers have traditionally attached locks with their names written on them as a public token of their affection.

Some couples in Natchez have apparently followed suit, leaving their signatures on padlocks attached to the metal wires along the railing of Natchez’s Bridge of Sighs.

Public Works Supervisor Justin Dollar said his department has gone twice to remove the locks, but he isn’t sure what the city’s policy should be.

“We had complaints about people putting them on there,” Dollar said. “It’s something that will have to be looked at.”

Some centuries-old bridges in Europe have actually sustained damage from the weight of the locks that have been accumulating for years, leading to a mass removal of the locks over the course of several years.

Though Natchez’s Bridge of Sighs is much newer and its locks number far less than those in Italy, Dollar said the city cannot wait until the locks become a bigger problem.

“You can’t say, ‘We can take this lock off and leave this one on,’” Dollar said. “You either have to leave them all or remove all of them.”

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said he hasn’t seen the locks on the bridge himself, and is unsure what the city will decide to do with them.

“If it gets to be a clutter, we’ll take them down,” Brown said. “Who knows, if we have too many locks on the bridge, it may fall. I won’t have to make that decision — there won’t be too many by the end of June.”

Brown was referring to the end of his term in June. He announced recently that he would not seek reelection.