Locks will be removed from Bridge of Sighs

Published 12:02 am Saturday, May 21, 2016

NATCHEZ — As romantic as the notion of attaching a padlock to the bridge might be to some Natchez lovebirds, the city hopes couples will find another way to show their affection at the Bridge of Sighs.

Public Works asks residents not to attach locks to the handrails on the Bridge of Sighs, the pedestrian bridge in Bluff Park that crosses Roth Hill Road.

The bridge is named for a bridge in Europe, where couples traditionally attach locks with their names written on them as a token of their love.

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Some Natchez residents had begun adorning the Natchez bridge with the locks as well.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen requested an engineer’s opinion last month on whether the locks would damage the structure.

Public Works Supervisor Justin Dollar asked Jordan Kaiser and Sessions, a local engineering and surveying firm, to provide a recommendation on whether the locks could damage the footbridge.

Engineer Hayden Kaiser wrote a letter to the mayor and board of aldermen, saying he thinks the locks should be removed.

“The beginning stages of the public attaching padlocks to the bridge will have little to no structural effect on the bridge,” Kaiser said in the letter. “However, as more and more locks are attached, substantial weight will be added.”

This weight would eventually cause significant deformities and possible failures in steal beams that make up the bridge, Kaiser said.

“Although I did not design the bridge, I am certain it was not designed for this type of load,” he said in the letter.

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.

On Tuesday, the aldermen instructed the public works department to remove all existing padlocks with bolt cutters, and to routinely check the bridge to remove any additional romantic tokens.