US transportation authorities agreed on Friday to fund anti-suicide netting beneath the Golden Gate Bridge to prevent people jumping to their death from the iconic landmark, an official said.
The Golden Gate’s management authority agreed to pay part of the US$76 million funding for the Golden Gate Bridge Physical Suicide Deterrent System Project.
The rest will be funded by the US federal and state authorities, said Denis Mulligan, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.
Construction of the system, which is to provide netting extending 6m on either side of the bridge, is due to be completed by 2018, he said.
The netting is to be suspended 6m below the sidewalks, which run along either side of the bridge, which is 2.7km — making the total length of netting more than 5km.
More than 1,400 people have fallen to their deaths from the bridge since it was opened in 1937, including a record 46 suicides last year, the official said.
Mulligan said various options had been considered, adding: “Of all the alternatives, this has the least visual impact. If you drive across the bridge you will not see it.”
“At the two vista points at the two ends you will notice it, because you will look out straight at it, along the length of the bridge,” Mulligan said. “On the sidewalk you will not notice it, unless you’re leaning way over the side.”
He said the world-famous bridge’s managers had been considering options for about a decade.
“Several decades ago people didn’t have an understanding about suicide ... they didn’t talk about it. Our board today reflects our society, today we talk about suicide,” he said.
“In the last several years, many families who have lost young children and teenagers on the bridge have come and talked to our board about what it meant to them and their families and their children’s friends. I think that has had an impact,” he said.