California officials approved the final $7 million needed to build a suicide barrier at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, where people jump to their deaths at a rate of about once a week.
The state’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission voted today to approve the last of the $76 million in funding needed to complete the project.
“People have come from all over the world to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge,” Richard Van Horn, the commission’s chairman who voted in favor of the project, said after the panel’s meeting in Sacramento. “The net is a superb idea.”
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 supporting the barrier. Opponents have said barriers would change the look of the bridge, a world-renowned symbol of San Francisco that offers sweeping views of the city skyline and the Pacific Ocean.
“We were able to make the last chunk fall in place,” Van Horn said. “So it’s going to get done.”
The 19-member board of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, the agency that runs the bridge, approved its $20 million share of the funding last month.
Bridge officials expect to complete design of the barrier this year and solicit bids for contractors early next year, said John Eberle, the agency’s deputy district engineer.