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City Manager Ready to Take Next Step on Colorado Street Bridge Suicide Mitigation Efforts

Published on Monday, September 14, 2020 | 3:00 am

City Manager Steve Mermell could spend $160,000 for the fabrication and installation of a temporary mock-up of panels as part of the Colorado Street Bridge Suicide Mitigation Project.

Last year, after city staff presented several barrier designs to the 

Historic Preservation and Design commissions following a review by the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the consensus was that full-scale mock-ups should be created.

The mock-ups will include curved lamp post treatments at alcoves with straight mesh for the length of the bridge, curved lamp post treatments at alcoves with curved mesh for the length of the bridge, and straight pickets at the alcoves and the length of the bridge.

“The Department of Public Works recommends that Custom Design Works be awarded the purchase order contract for fabrication and installation of the temporary mock-ups,” according to the report.

The iconic bridge has become controversial not because it is where numerous people have chosen to kill themselves over the years, but also because of some of the methods being used to stop people from jumping.

Currently, 10-feet-tall tight-mesh chain link fencing is installed as a temporary measure as the city reviews different permanent options.

The installation of emergency fencing on the sides of the bridge in 2017 coincided with a dramatic drop in the number of suicide attempts, from nine in 2017 to just three in 2018, or a 63 percent drop, according to Pasadena Police Department records.

In 2018, after police spent 13 hours successfully convincing a woman not to jump from the bridge, Mermell declared an emergency and authorized the city to spend $295,932 to expand the fencing along both sides of the 1,400-foot-long landmark structure, which was built in 1913.

Mermell invoked a section of the Pasadena Municipal Code which allows for immediate purchase of material or services without competitive bidding at the lowest possible price. A report is required if the amount exceeds $75,000. Mermell said a report would be sent to the City Council.

After nine people died after jumping from the bridge in 2017, city officials installed fencing at the alcoves of the structure but did not close off the bridge’s ends. Days after the fencing was installed, a man walked through an opening and jumped to his death.

Local residents expressed concerns after the City Council approved a project that has allowed Habitat for Humanity to build nine homes and a playground just beneath the 107-year-old bridge.

According to a national study published last year that compared the effectiveness of various structural suicide prevention methods on bridges, including netting and barriers, barriers led with an 82 percent reduction rate in suicides.

The National Suicide Hotlines are available 24/7 at 1-800 SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Additional help is available at the Didi Hirsch 24-hour Crisis Line: 1-877-727-4747 (en Español: 1-800-628-9454)
LGBTQ – The Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
Trans Crisis Line: 1-877-565-8860
Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741-741
People of Color Crisis Text Line: Text STEVE to 741-741

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