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Congressional Funding Spurs Safety New Project for Golden Gate Bridge

On June 27, 2014, the San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors unanimously approved $76 million to fund a 20-foot-wide steel net extending from the bridge on both sides to prevent suicide jumpers.
Photo: Golden Gate Bridge District

In March 2005, we published a news item on the debate over a proposed safety barrier for the Golden Gate Bridge. At that time, about 1,300 people had clambered over the bridge railings to their deaths. Most of the feedback from landscape architects to the barrier news item was, "Leave it alone."

Since then, another 300 people have taken that gut-wrenching leap off the bridge. The iconic status of the
bridge lives on, but with 1,600 confirmed deaths now, the "Golden Gate" might as well be called the black
gate to oblivion.

Dennis Mulligan, the GM of the Golden Gate Bridge District, reports that just about every week crews stop someone from jumping, however, in 2013, 46 people were not stopped.

After decades of talk about "doing something," including a 1950s barrier plan, and the cynical counter argument of "let them jump," now there is a concrete action plan. Why did the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors after all these years suddenly decide to approve a $76 million safety net? Like so many things in life (and death), it's about money. Congress' just passed a multi-year transportation authorization act that makes bridge safety projects, including nets, eligible for federal funds. It's reported $27 million will come from the Federal Surface Transportation program, $22 million from the Federal Local Highway Bridge program, $20 million from bridge reserves, and $7 million from the California Mental Health Service Act.

The safety net, unlike previous proposals for vertical barriers, will not block anyone's view of the sweeping Pacific waters, hillsides, Alcatraz and the city skyline. The bridge does, however, have rolling scaffolds under the bridge for maintenance workers. Those will be in the way of the nets, and apparently would have to be replaced.

It's reported the project will likely take three years to build! It's also reported the span will at some point have to be closed for 52 hours, which would be a first for the bridge.

There is also a $30.3 million project budget for a moveable median barrier system to prevent head on collisions for the six-lane 1.7-mile bridge roadway. Weather permitting, the mobile barriers will premiere Jan. 10-11, 2015.

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October 15, 2019, 10:31 pm PDT

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