A CAMPAIGN to put up barriers along a motorway bridge in Whitefield has been supported by almost 1,000 people.

It follows the latest in a series of incidents in which people have threatened to jump or have plunged from the bridge on Bury Old Road, near Besses, into the path of vehicles on the M60.

Last Thursday’s incident, which started at 5.25pm, sparked a major police operation and led to the closure of the motorway in both directions for almost four hours, causing traffic chaos throughout the borough and adjoining road networks.

It ended when specially trained negotiators persuaded the man to come down from the bridge unharmed.

An online petition was started when a 69-year-old woman died after falling from the same bridge on July 8.

The number of signatures has risen sharply since Thursday’s incident, and has gone above the 900-mark.

The railings at the bridge, where the Metrolink line passes over, are at waist height.

Campaigners argue that high barriers were put over an adjacent footbridge along Bury New Road at Junction 17 in 1991, and see no reason why that should not be replicated.

But a spokesman for the Highways Agency, which manages the motorway network, said the procedure is complex as engineers have to continue the extra weight and wind resistance.

Mother-of-two Hayley Palfreyman, aged 38, who regularly commutes between her home in Whitefield and Atelier MB Architects in Manchester city centre, started the petition.

She said: “So many people have died there.

“It’s important to all the surrounding communities to stop people jumping off these bridges.

“If they put the barriers up, the chances would be greatly reduced.”

Joanna Rafter, who signed the petition, said: “My brother died this way. The loss and pain will live with me forever.”

Kate Healey, who lives near the bridge, said: “Thursday’s incident quadrupled my journey time. This has happened on numerous occasions. It’s simply unacceptable.”

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis also signed the petition and said: “I support local residents in their campaign to ensure everything is done to reduce risk and save lives.”

Prestwich councillor Alan Quinn said: “As this stretch of the M60 is within the planned Smart Motorway scheme, I have asked the Highways Agency to consider ways of installing barriers to stop people from jumping off the bridge.

“This would be a small element of their overall costs.”

His Labour colleague, Cllr Andrea Simpson, said she would lobby various organisations on the matter while Prestwich Lib Dem Cllr Tim Pickstone said: “It is very distressing when people want to kill themselves by jumping from a motorway bridge.

“My first priority would be to ensure that the support is place to help people through difficult times.”

A Highways Agency spokesman added: “We are aware of the petition and are looking at ways to improve the monitoring of such incidents so that we can identify and prioritise those areas of most concern.

“We have already allocated funds in the current financial year to investigate and deliver access and security improvements across the North West network.

“Further examination of the bridges near junction 17 is included as part of this study.”

To see the petition: visit tinyurl.com/m60bridgepetition