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article imageGolden Gate Bridge officials commit to buy netting despite cost

By Nathan Salant     Jul 16, 2016 in Technology
San Francisco - Public officials in charge of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge plan to press ahead with installation of steel netting beneath the roadway to stymie the dozens of people who attempt suicide by jumping from the structure each year.
Fabrication and installation of the specially designed netting, which has been discussed for decades but never implemented, was finally expected to start this year or next until bids for the work came in at nearly twice as expensive as expected.
Golden Gate Bridge District spokeswoman Priya Clemens said its experts would try to figure out why the two bids were so high and possibly revise the project, but said failure to take action was not an option.
"We continue to have suicides on the bridge," Clemens said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
"It's not acceptable to let that continue," she said.
In the meantime, Clemens said bridge officials would try to line up additional funding to add to the $76 million in commitments they already have, including $22 million from the California Dept. of Transportation and $7 million from state Mental Health Services Act funds.
The project had budgeted at $76 million.
But bids opened Tuesday by bridge officials came in much higher.
An Oakland company called Shimmick/Danny's Joint Venture was the low bidder at $142 million, Clemens said, and a bid from American Bridge of Coraopolis, Penn., came in at $174 million.
Clemens said the bids could delay the actual installation of the net but would not affect the district's determination to see it built after 33 people jumped to their deaths from the bridge last year.
"The district is still committed to saving lives on the bridge,” she said.
The Golden Gate Bridge District that owns and runs the bridge is a self-financing agency that allocates funds from vehicle toll collections from the more than 100,000 cars and trucks that cross daily.
Cars pay $7.50 to cross the bridge, but $1 less with an electronic payment card, and trucks pay substantially more depending on size.
Toll funds also are used finance a ferry system to transport passengers without cars between San Francisco to Marin County.
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