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Construction Cost Could Delay Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Barrier

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    A landmark Bay Area project designed to save lives may now need to be postponed due to its hefty price tag. Michelle Roberts reports. (Published Wednesday, July 13, 2016)

    A landmark Bay Area project designed to save lives may now need to be postponed due to its hefty price tag.

    Construction to install suicide prevention nets on the Golden Gate Bridge was scheduled to begin later this year, but officials may hit pause due to the costs involved.

    The nets were estimated to cost $76 million dollars, and that amount has already been set aside. Yesterday, however, the Bridge District opened the bidding process and the two companies interested in the job say the price is far higher than the district had anticipated.

    The iconic bridge draws thousands of tourists every year, but Golden Gate Bridge manager Kary Witt says it’s also a place where dozens of people commit suicide.

    “If we see anyone who gives us a reason to think they might be thinking of suicide, we’ll start a conversation and get to the bottom of it,” Witt said.

    There are dozens of security cameras installed on the Golden Gate Bridge. Officers are looking for accidents, debris on the road and pedestrians who may be at risk. Unfortunately, officers can’t save everyone, Witt said.

    So, two years ago, the Bridge District approved a plan to fund 20-foot-wide metal suicide prevention nets.

    On Wednesday, however, Bridge District spokeswoman Priya David Clemens said the two contractor bids are significantly higher than what had been budgeted. One is for $142 million and the other for $174 — nearly double the estimated budget of $76 million.

    “It’s possible these higher-priced bids will impact the timeline,” Clemens said. “We expect the engineering staff will take a few weeks to go line item by line item … look at the cost.”

    Clemens says if engineers can’t find any cost savings in the current bids, district officials will likely have to delay construction until more funds can be allocated.

    “Our concern is to make sure we are getting excellent quality and using the money that is given to us wisely,” she said.

    After the Bridge District engineers analyze the two bids, they will make a recommendation to the board to either open the bid process again or accept the current bids. It remains unknown how long it would take to raise the additional millions for the project.