City Could Contract Firm to Design Suicide Prevention Plan for Colorado Street Bridge

Published : Monday, April 15, 2019 | 12:55 PM

Pasadena’s Public Safety Committee will take up consideration of contracting with a specialized architect to design a “suicide deterrent system” for the Colorado Street bridge at its April 17 meeting.

The firm chosen by the Pasadena Department of Public Works is San Francisco-based Donald MacDonald Architects, which designed such a system for the Golden Gate Bridge.

“The firm offers a unique understanding and expertise in suicide mitigation projects and brings a wealth of knowledge from extensive research into suicide mitigation efforts around the globe,” staff said in its report on the matter to the City Council.

The award-winning design firm specializes in bridge and road projects, according to the report. It would be working in concert with the firm of Biggs Cardosa Associates and Galvin Preservation Associates.

The former is a structural engineering firm that specializes in bridges, whether it involves seismic retrofitting, design or rehabilitation. Noteworthy is the fact it worked on the 1993 retrofit of the Colorado Street Bridge.

For its part, Galvin Preservation specializes in the evaluation of historic resources and preparation of environmental documents. It, too, has worked on bridge projects in Pasadena; namely the La Loma Road Bridge rehabilitation, and the Holly Street Bridge seismic retrofit, which is ongoing.

The contract up for approval is in the amount of $700,000. With that money MacDonald will conduct an investigation and site survey, complete the necessary environmental documentation, and deliver a preliminary design.

That would be in the first year. The second would entail final design and construction documentation.

Avram Gold, who is vice president of the West Pasadena Residents’ Association but spoke only for himself, noted that “generations” of Pasadenans have tried to solve the problem of suicide leaps from the bridge, to no avail.

“It’s a situation where you have two compelling arguments,” he said. “One for maintaining the quality and architectural statement of the bridge, against the deterrent of keeping people from jumping.”

Gold said the solution will not be zero-sum in either way; that compromise will be a part of it.

“I just hope the compromise will somehow solve the problem of saving lives,” said Gold, “and also help the people who live underneath it, so they don’t have to worry about bodies falling from the sky.”

Marci Solway is a resident near the park that sits below the bridge. She questioned the City’s spending priorities, suggesting money spent on the park should wait until a solution to the death leaps is settled on.

She questioned the virtue of putting a “hardscape” beneath the bridge.

“We are still going to have bodies falling from the bridge, because they are going to be drawn to it,” explained Solway. “They put the hardscape exactly where most of the bodies fell over the last four or five years.”

Vincent Montanelli, a local resident and activist was pleased to hear the matter was getting official attention. “As long as they solve the problem,” he said. “It’s really good news. It’s a big issue for the local residents and people who use parks in Pasadena.”

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m., in City Hall Council Chambers, Room S249, 100 N. Garfield.