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Staff Seeks Input From Historic Preservation Commission on Colorado Street Bridge Suicide Barriers

Published on Monday, April 19, 2021 | 10:50 am
 

Members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission will have an opportunity to comment on the full-scale suicide barrier mockups recently installed on the Colorado Street Bridge.

The commission will receive an update on the project during its meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and provide advisory comments to the City Council regarding the proposed alternative designs for new barriers on the historic bridge, which over years has become the site of suicides committed by desperate people jumping from its ledge.

“Staff would like to gather additional pertinent feedback and request the advisory review and input of the Historic Preservation Commission on the mock-ups,” according to a staff report contained in the commission’s agenda.

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.

In 1921, the bridge was featured in the Charlie Chaplin film “The Kid.” In that movie, a young woman contemplates leaping from the bridge. Chaplain again used the bridge in 1931 in “City Lights” in which he convinces a distraught man not to jump.

According to legend, after the film’s release, people began jumping from the bridge. According to one estimation, 79 people jumped to their deaths from the bridge during the Great Depression.

The city is now seeking an effective deterrent that will preserve the historic character and significance of the iconic 1,400-foot, 107-year-old span across the Arroyo Seco in the city’s west end.

The vision of the city is to allow the community to experience and enjoy the bridge and the Arroyo as a safe and beautiful environment now and in the future.

“The consensus among the Historic Preservation Commission members was that a design that emphasized transparency and minimized modifications to bridge elements/features would be preferred,” according to the agenda report.

“The Commissioners unanimously favored mesh over rods/pickets and agreed that full-scale mock-ups should be constructed in order to more adequately assess the options,” the report states.

An online survey has been published on the project’s website to solicit public opinion on the mock-up design options. Results from the survey will be presented to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee and the council subsequent to the closure of the survey on May 31, 2021.

City staff members are scheduled to make a presentation to the Design Commission on May 11. Depending on the feedback from the Historic Preservation and Design commissions, city staff will make a presentation to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee and the council for a final recommendation and design approval.

To view the meeting, visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89101166896

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