By David Mariuz
A plan to build suicide prevention nets on the Golden Gate Bridge could get the green light this week.
The bridge's board of directors will meet Friday to vote on whether to fund the $76 million "physical suicide deterrent system." Federal money is anticipated to cover most of the costs, including $22 million via Caltrans and $27 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The project would also get $7 million from the state Mental Health System Oversight and Advisory Commission.
But the district must put up $20 million from its reserves to secure the outside money, and the board has insisted it will not use toll revenue to fund the nets.
“I anticipate there will be much discussion, much public comment, and then there will be a vote to consider the funding plan that’s been put forward,” Golden Gate Bridge General Manager Denis Mulligan said Monday.
Family members of suicide victims and mental health advocates have lobbied for decades to have a physical barrier to would-be jumpers built on the bridge. More than 1,600 people are known to have leaped to their deaths from the span since it opened in 1937. That includes 46 in 2013, one of the highest one-year tolls.
Federal funding for the project has become available because of enactment of a 2012 law that makes safety barriers and nets on bridges eligible for federal money.
The net system is planned to extend horizontally 20 feet below the sidewalk and 20 feet out.
KQED's Forum discusses the proposed suicide barrier and its funding: