SAN FRANCISO (KCBS)— The Golden Gate Bridge may finally get its long-awaited suicide prevention system. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District board votes Friday on a $76 million project to install a safety net on both sides of the bridge.
People committing suicide by jumping from the bridge has been a problem for many years. According to the district’s general manager, Dennis Mulligan, in 2013, 46 people committed suicide on the bridge.
“On average about once a week we stop someone from jumping off the bridge. On average, twice a month people die by jumping off the bridge,” said Mulligan.
According to the agency, the prevention plan has faced opposition for years because of the expense, engineering difficulty and public resistance to the notion of changing the look of the iconic bridge.
A model for a suicide barrier was designed in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until now that a viable barrier and federal funding were identified.
“The key change is that now the project is available for federal funds,” Mulligan said. “Two years ago we were not available for federal funds so the financing and construction would have been quite problematic. Fortunately there was a change in federal law. Congress passed a new multi-year transportation authorization act that states safety projects including nets on bridges are eligible for federal funds.”
The agency said $27 million would come from the federal Surface Transportation Program, $22 million from the federal Local Highway Bridge Program, $20 million from its own reserves, and $7 million from California Mental Health Service Act money.
The project is expected to be approved and would likely take three years to build the net that would extend 20 feet on both sides of the bridge.
The bridge has been the site of more than 1,400 confirmed deaths since it opened in 1937.
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