NewsCovering California


Golden Gate Bridge suicide net delayed two years

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Posted at 12:13 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 15:31:15-05

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Construction of a suicide prevention net at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is two years behind schedule because of problems with the lead contractor, officials said.

The suicide net is a coarse web of steel designed to catch and cradle people who jump and was set to be completed in 2021. It is now expected to be built by 2023, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.

Bridge officials cited problems with the lead contractor, Shimmick Construction Co., which was acquired by global engineering firm AECOM two years ago. The sale led to distraction and turnover, slowing many projects down, said bridge manager Denis Mulligan.

The company presented an optimistic timeline that didn’t pan out, underestimating the time needed to complete certain steps, Mulligan said.

Backers of the suicide barrier say a two-year delay equals 60 lives lost. More than two dozen people have died by plummeting from the bridge this year, while security patrols made 156 successful interventions.

“We’ve been averaging 30 deaths a year,” said Paul Muller, president of the nonprofit Bridge Rail Foundation, which formed to end suicides at the Golden Gate. Studies from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley suggest that a person who landed on the net is unlikely to jump again.

In a statement Wednesday, AECOM said its acquisition of Shimmick had not stymied the project.