FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio-- Major safety changes are coming to a decades-old bridge.
Michelle and Marty Biggins have been fighting for fencing to go up on the Lorain Road Bridge between Cleveland and Fairview Park for the last two years.
Their daughter, Mindy Biggins, was 24-years-old and a kindergarten teacher when she ended her own life by jumping off the bridge in 2004. The Biggins said they saw none of the typical warning signs, like depression, come from their daughter.
“She was a kind-hearted, compassionate, just a beautiful person, and she always cared about others first. And if she was here today, she would want to help others and that’s my goal, it’s to help others,” Michelle Biggins said.
Two years ago, the family heard of more suicides on the bridge since their daughter’s death. That’s when Michelle decided she had to act.
“We got to do something. Let’s see what we can do to get a fence up on this bridge to hopefully save some lives,” Michelle said to her husband.
Michelle became immersed in city council meetings, phone calls and emails. She shared the story of her daughter in both Cleveland and Fairview Park. Eventually, Michelle learned that major upkeep of the bridge fell on ODOT.
“In this case, the Lorain Road Bridge runs over a lot of public spaces and so to protect those beneath it we are going to be adding the vandal protection fencing,” said Amanda McFarland, ODOT District 12 spokeswoman.
The fencing will be 8 feet from the ground and will have spacing small enough that doesn’t allow a person to climb it. It will also have a special coating to make it match the current color of the bridge.
The project will cost $800,000 and is expected to begin in the spring of 2018.
“This project encompasses not only adding the fence, but we are going to be painting some of the steel railings along with upgrading the lighting,” McFarland added.
As a mother, Michelle said the project has helped her deal with her daughter’s death.
“I just want to reach out to people and let them know that losing a child is devastating, but you can find ways to live through them and this is my way of living through Mindy.”
“It makes me feel good that I’m able to help other people with this fence being put up because I truly believe that so many people think about going to that bridge.” Michelle said.
The moment the fencing is complete will be a big day for her and her family.
“It will be so exciting because finally you know the dream that we’ve had will be a reality. And I would just be so proud because so many people have stood behind us to make this project happen,” she said.
ODOT has approved all of the funding for the project and it is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018.