After decades of debate and deliberations, bridge officials on Friday gave their blessing to a $76 million “safety net” which will act as a suicide barrier to prevent individuals from jumping to their deaths off of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District board of directors voted unanimously in favor of funding the $76 million barrier, which is slated for full installment by 2018. Bidding on the job is expected to begin next year, reports the Sacramento Bee.
Arguments have been presented on both sides by proponents for the construction of the net and those who oppose it. “I think if a person’s going to choose to commit suicide, then they’re going to find a way to commit suicide, and you’re not going to be able to stop them,” visitor Scott Stewart told local Fox News affiliate in San Francisco KTVU. “And so spending that amount of money in that way is basically, in my opinion, a waste of money,” Stewart noted.
Kevin Hines, 32, who miraculously survived his botched suicide attempt in 2000 when he tried to jump off the bridge, said he had felt “instant regret” upon jumping and that the barrier will act as an important suicide deterrent. “Not one more soul, not one more soul will be lost to that bridge,” said Hines, according to the Bee.
The $76 million expenditure will go towards the construction of a stainless steel wire net extending 20 feet out and 20 feet below the bridge’s span. Funding for the suicide barrier will reportedly come from four different sources, according to the Associated Press: $27 million from the federal Surface Transportation Program, $22 million from the federal Local Highway Bridge program, $20 million from the bridge’s own fund, which is essentially revenue from tolls, and $7 million from state money which has been earmarked in the California Mental Health Service Act.
Officials said that, since the San Francisco Bridge opened in 1937, more than 1,400 people have plunged to their deaths, including a record 46 suicides last year, the Bee notes.