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article imageGolden Gate Bridge directors approve barrier to stop suicides

By Nathan Salant     Jun 28, 2014 in Technology
San Francisco - After decades of being an unfortunate magnet for people determined to kill themselves, directors of the Golden Gate Bridge voted Friday to build a suicide barrier along the length of the iconic span.
Urged by dozens of supporters, mostly family members of people who jumped from the world-famous bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation Board of Directors voted unanimously to spend $76 million on a steel mesh net to catch people who try to kill themselves.
The vote caps decades of debate over the advisability of such a barrier, which opponents acknowledged could save lives but contended would detract from the bridge's celebrated appearance.
The sleek, mile-long bridge that links San Francisco with the Marin County hills by crossing the entrance to San Francisco Bay, is one of the world's most recognizable architectural achievements, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
But more than 1,600 people have jumped from the bridge, which has lengthwise pedestrian walkways with four-foot-tall barriers on both sides.
Pedestrians are not permitted to use the westernmost walkway.
The suicide barrier is expected to take three years to construct, the newspaper said.
The $69 million cost of the suicide barrier will borne by $20 million in bridge tolls, $7 million in state mental health allocations and the rest from federal highway and grant funds, the newspaper said.
Bridge District General Manager Denis Mulligan advised directors to approve the barrier because it "simply is the right thing to do at this time," the newspaper said.
Director Janet Reilly of San Francisco, who had helped campaign for funds to build the barrier, told the Chronicle how satisfied she was by the vote.
"It's not every day you have an opportunity to save a life, and hardly ever that you have an opportunity to save many lives," Reilly said.
"Today is that day," she said.
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