A suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge is one step closer to reality after bridge engineers on Friday submitted a completed final environmental review of the project.
Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District are expected to vote to accept project plans on Feb. 12 after which they will begin pursuing approximately $50 million in public and private funds to pay for the barrier, said district spokeswoman Mary Currie.
The move comes on the heels of Marin County Coroner Ken Holmes’ announcement that 31 people jumped to their deaths from the iconic span in 2009. In 2008, 34 people committed suicide by jumping from the bridge.
“Last year 31 people took their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge, completing a decade of tragedy with hundreds of lives lost for want of a proper safety rail or net,” Holmes said in a statement. “This tragedy has now been going on for over 72 years.”
Holmes has for years publicly advocated for a suicide barrier on the bridge.
In 2008, bridge directors chose the net as the best option to pursue after years of advocacy from victims’ families and mental health groups.
The final project is expected to reflect two changes: the actual metal netting will be a neutral steel color while the horizontal metal poles will remain International Orange like the rest of the span.
In addition, a 300-foot section on both the east and west sides of the northern portion of the bridge will be above the existing railing, not below.
“They are going to put it vertically, eight feet, above the four-foot” railing, Currie said.
Placing netting below the span in that section would interfere with the aesthetics around the massive concrete block that helps anchor the bridge on the north side, according to historians who weighed in on the project’s design.
District officials have publicly committed to choosing a design that will not have a significant visual impact on the bridge, which opened in 1937.
Officials have also said toll revenues will not be used to pay for the barrier. It costs $6 for most vehicles to cross the bridge.
Finalizing the project next month will allow districts to begin pursuing federal dollars, Currie said.