Golden Gate Bridge $76 Million Suicide Nets Near Approval

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Officials of the agency that runs San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge today approved a $76 million funding plan to erect a suicide barrier along the span, where people plunge to their deaths at a rate of about once a week.

The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District’s 19-member board voted unanimously to approve the funding, which includes $20 million from district reserves.

“We must fight mental illness on many fronts and this budget action is a critical component of saving the lives of people who might not see that their brightest days are ahead of them,” Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, said in a news release yesterday ahead of the meeting.

There have been almost 1,600 suicides at the 1.7-mile (2.7 kilometer) bridge linking San Francisco and Marin County since it opened in 1937, including 46 last year, according to the Bridge Rail Foundation, a nonprofit group advocating the barriers. Opponents have said barriers would mar a masterpiece of aesthetics and engineering.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission plans to consider $27 million in funding for the project next month, along with the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, which will consider $7 million in funding July 24. Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration are expected to set aside $22 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alison Vekshin in San Francisco at avekshin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Michael B. Marois