Bay Area officials are scheduled to vote Friday on a $76-million package to fund suicide-prevention nets that would be installed on either side of the Golden Gate Bridge, where an estimated 1,600 people have plunged to their deaths since the rust-colored span opened in 1937.
Advocates of the netting say it will prevent jumpers from hurling themselves to their deaths, and possibly act as a deterrent. Opponents of the plan have said the project won’t prevent people from finding alternative ways of committing suicide off the iconic bridge.
In 2013, a record 46 people killed themselves at the Golden Gate Bridge, according to California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg’s office. More than 100 other would-be jumpers were stopped by bridge workers.
The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District’s board is scheduled to vote on the project after public hearings about the effects of suicide and the benefits of prevention nets.
The board has previously rejected raising the bridge’s railings, which stand 4 feet high.
To construct the net system, rolling scaffolds used by maintenance workers under the bridge must be replaced because the project will block the equipment.
A separate $8-million wind retrofit project would be combined with the netting to avoid delays from construction. Crews would then install a horizontal net system that extends 20 feet below the sidewalks on the 1.7-mile long bridge.
Funding for the net system would come from a mix of federal and state money, as well as proceeds from bridge tolls.
“With the allocation of funds to raise the net at the Golden Gate Bridge, we are putting a stop to 77 years of needless deaths and devastation of families,” Kevin Hines, who survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge, said in a statement. "We are finally showing the rest of the world that San Francisco can be as progressive as it claims to be.”