A yearlong feasibility study by Caltrans determined that a physical suicide deterrent option is suitable for the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. The study was conducted in response to significant community concern about suicides from the bridge.
Caltrans staff researched options from the U.S. and abroad and considered several factors including regulatory requirements, potential impacts to the environment, cost, keeping maintenance access, and preserving the historic look and features of the bridge. The San Diego-Coronado Bridge Feasibility Study evaluated 11 alternatives, documenting the strengths, weaknesses and impacts of the alternatives and determining a range of estimated costs for each alternative. The study also received and considered community input and comments from Barrio Logan and Coronado residents, regional stakeholders and first responders.
“Caltrans is working with the community towards a suicide deterrent option for the San Diego-Coronado Bridge,” said Caltrans District 11 Interim Director Tim Gubbins. “The study is the first step in a process to prevent, or deter, people from harming themselves or others on the bridge.”
The next steps in the process to a permanent suicide prevention barrier is to narrow the options for a permanent barrier, define funding needs and then identify potential funding sources.
In the meantime, Caltrans is pursuing an interim measure that would place bird spikes along the length of the bridge. Bird spikes are typically used to prevent birds from gathering, and in this instance, would be used to create a barrier that could result in enough delay for intervention. Caltrans staff is working with regulatory agencies for the required environmental and permits required to add the spikes. The spikes would be in place for no more than five years while the process is underway for a permanent suicide deterrent system.
Regarding this interim measure that could be put into effect much sooner than a future permanent solution, Wayne Strickland, of the Coronado San Diego Bridge Collaborative For Suicide Prevention says, “There was another preventable suicide off bridge today, June 12th. That makes 420 preventable suicides by bridge. I have been trying to get CalTrans to just build a fence like most other bridges over the freeways. They have chosen a “bird spikes” option, but haven’t given details on height of spikes. This is a deterrent like the net being done on Golden Gate Bridge and you will get hurt if landing on it and hopefully it will convince you to not try going over it. The CalTrans spikes are supposed to be a temporary fix for up to 5 years according their spokesperson.”
The study can be accessed at http://www.dot.ca.gov/d11/docs/Coronado_Feasibility_Study_Report.pdf