It is not very often that we can say that a project will save lives. But a project in San Francisco that started in February of 2017 is intended to do just that. The project has a rather long title: Golden Gate Bridge Physical Suicide Deterrent System and Wind Retrofit Project.
Our firm provided a 3-day Primavera P6 training session last week to employees of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway Transportation District and the general contractor, Shimmick/Danny’s Joint Venture. After the first day of training I drove up to an observation area on the Marin County side of the bridge to take the photo you see here.
Stainless steel netting will be strung along both sides of the 1.7 mile long bridge. The netting itself will be 25 feet below the bridge deck to avoid obstructing the view from what is of course one of the most iconic bridges in the world. Yet the sad reality is that roughly 1,600 people have chosen this location to end their lives since the bridge opened in 1937.
Suicides can be prevented. A 1978 study by University of California – Berkeley clinical psychologist Richard Seiden tracked 515 people who were restrained from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge between 1937 and 1971. Years later, 94 percent were either still alive or had died of natural causes.
This $204 M project is expected to take nearly four years to complete. Existing paint will have to be removed, and contained. Crews will be working from the underside of the bridge some 250 feet above the water. Field measurements will have to be taken for all of the struts that support the netting. Altogether, enough netting to cover seven football fields will be hung.
Various groups and individuals lobbied decades for some sort of deterrent system. Yes, this is an expensive project but the original 4-foot high railing was hardly any deterrent at all. As one suicide note stated, “Why do you make it so easy?”