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The Bridge of Sighs: Preserving the Majestic View of the Mississippi

By John Mott Coffey, with News Mississippi affiliate WQNZ

NATCHEZ, Miss.–The Natchez Preservation Commission is continuing to carefully watch how the Bridge of Sighs is being designed before it gets placed on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.

“Every detail of the bridge you’ve got to show us,” Preservation Commission Chairman Marty Seibert told contractors Wednesday as they presented drawings of how the bridge is shaping up on paper.

Construction projects in Natchez’ historic districts must get the Preservation Commission’s approval to ensure their designs fit in the city’s architectural landscape. The Bridge of Sighs will be a city-owned replica of what spanned over Roth Hill Road in the 1830s until the early 1900s.

Building the pedestrian bridge is to begin in about four weeks with actual site work scheduled to start the day after the annual Great Mississippi River Balloon Race Oct. 17-19, according to those involved in its design and construction.

Dozer of Natchez got the contract in May to erect the prefabricated bridge for the city for about $700,000, which is mostly federal and state funds.

In discussions Wednesday with the Preservation Commission, Dozer project manager Bill Jones pointed to the challenges of making the steel-and-wood bridge with its brick columns look good while also conforming to safety standards.

The commission in January gave the city bridge a thumbs-up — after tough scrutiny and demanding more input — on the condition its members have an active hand in how it and its landscaping look as they transform from drawings to actual construction. The commission on Wednesday approved the latest decorative design revisions and indicated a preference that the foot bridge’s color be black. It’ll review how the bridge’s lighting fixtures are to look at a later meeting.

The Bridge of Sighs’ name is the same as the famous one in Venice, Italy, built around 1600 as well as others around the world.

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