Citing lives over aesthetics, the city manager of Pasadena, California, this week ordered the extension of fencing along the length of the historic Colorado Street Bridge to prevent suicides.
According to the Pasadena Star-News, city manager Steve Mermell said
The new fences will be an extension of the 10-foot barriers set up in 2016 in the bridge’s pedestrian alcoves and are meant to prevent suicides until the city begins construction on permanent barriers, a project set to go out to bid this fall.
“While we are moving forward with a request for proposals to design new barriers, we cannot leave the status quo in place until that process is completed and new permanent railings (are) installed,” city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said in an email.
According to Pasadena Now, the move came after a suicidal woman who was talked down from the bridge after 13 hours of negotiations Monday:
“Across the country, suicides are increasing, and we’ve seen an increase here locally,” Mermell said. “As it relates to the Colorado Street Bridge, there were nine suicides from that location in 2017.”
“In the interests of public safety, on an emergency basis as set forth in Pasadena Municipal Code Section 4.08.150, there will be an extension of the alcove fencing the entire length of the bridge and we will close off the ends as best as possible to prevent people from walking out from the end of [the] bridge,” he said.
The total cost of the temporary barriers will be about $295,000. Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek said the temporary fencing will be “very unattractive,” but action was needed to prevent more deaths.
The more permanent, 7 1/2-foot-tall fencing will cost up to $2.5 million but takes longer to install.
More than 150 people have died by suicide at the bridge since 1919, six years after it was built. It earned the nickname “Suicide Bridge” back in the 1930s. The city staffs police at the bridge to prevent people from jumping.
The Colorado Street Bridge’s striking design has been shown in countless commercials and movies, including the Oscar-winning “La La Land.”
(Image of the Colorado Street Bridge in 2014 in Pasadena, California, by ltenney1225 via Flickr)