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Pasadena Heritage Wants Community, Public Works Dept. to Keep Looking for Additional Solutions to Bridge Suicide Barriers Being Considered

Group could not come to consensus on current mockups

Published on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 | 11:37 am

Ahead of Tuesday’s Design Commission meeting where commissioners will have a chance to provide feedback and review of the mock up of barriers on the Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena Heritage let its opinion be known.

“Pasadena Heritage members, board members, Advocacy Committee members and staff have been agonizing over the fencing alternatives mocked up on the Colorado Street Bridge. There is no consensus among us as to an acceptable alternative among those presented, rather the consensus is that none of these options are right,” wrote Executive Director Sue Mossman and Andrew Salimian, who serves as preservation director. “We cannot, therefore, recommend any of the alternatives as presented.”

In November 2019, the commission started reviewing four vertical barrier design concepts which received the most public support during a public outreach process. These were eventually narrowed down to three, which both the Design Commission and the Historical Preservation Commission said should be shown to the public via design mock-ups on the bridge.

These full-size mock-ups demonstrating the three configurations have been fabricated and installed on the bridge and are now available for public viewing and reference.

“We understand that each of the current options have pros and cons, but we believe all three are too visually impactful and detract from the experience of the bridge,” the group said in its letter. “We were hopeful that the curved mesh lamppost surrounds might provide the least change, but they are simply too visually invasive and change the essential feeling of crossing the Bridge. A straight fence would be preferable, but would require extreme lengthening of the lampposts which puts them out of proportion.”

Prior to the barriers, the city installed chain-link fencing on the bridge in 2017 following an increase in jumpers. In one instance, first responders successfully talked a distraught person down from the ledge after 17 hours.

Concerns about jumpers increased after the city approved a Habitat for Humanity housing project beneath the famous structure.

Pasadena Heritage representatives participated in the process to arrive at the options. The process included several public meetings and a task force group.

The group said the mesh designs have less structure, may disappear more, and are shorter in height but are more contemporary and less in keeping with the architecture of the Bridge.

“During our site walks, we experienced reflectivity problems that may be impossible to avoid and could create dangerous road conditions,” the group said.

The picket designs relate better to the design elements of the Bridge, are more like what is there now, but create a stacking effect as you travel down the bridge and must be noticeably taller, according to the group.

“Therefore, we are asking that the community and the Public Works Department take another look at possible options and reconsider whether there are any viable alternatives that would be more compatible with the design and aesthetics of the Colorado Street Bridge, one of Pasadena’s most beloved and iconic structures,” the letter says. “As members of the public have noted, it will take more than just physical structures to prevent suicides, and those strategies should be discussed in tandem with whatever physical deterrent is to be installed.”

The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be viewed at:

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