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Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier delayed

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Life-saving project likely two years late, set for 2023

An orange-painted tower of a suspension bridge, seen through a whole in a chainlink fence. Via Shutterstock

It took decades for stakeholders to agree on a suicide-prevention barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, and now it will take at least two extra years for the potentially lifesaving design to start doing its work on the city’s beloved but tragic span.

“While the contractor has not provided a firm final date for project delivery, the Bridge District estimates the project is likely about two years behind schedule,” the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District said in an announcement Thursday.

That means a 2023 completion of the net-like steel accoutrement is now likely. “We are frustrated,” district General Manager Denis Mulligan said, blaming contractors for the delay.

The $211-million project under construction since April 2017 involves 369 net supports being manufactured in five states, of which 309 are complete and 102 are already installed.

When finally complete the barrier will extend 20 feet from the side of the bridge and hang 20 feet below it, hindering attempts to jump into the bay.

Contract work is in the hands of Shimmick Construction and SF-based Danny’s Construction Company.

If the Shimmick name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same company that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency blamed for the 2018 Muni subway meltdown after a fix-it job in which one contractor died.

The district first approved the barrier in 2008 but couldn’t begin building for years due to budget woes. The original budget was just $50 million.

The district no longer publishes estimates of the number of people who have died jumping from the span, for fear that statistics could incite copycat behavior. The figure is well over 1,000, with many victims likely unrecorded.

The first happened just a few months after the bridge opened in 1937. At least 34 people have survived suicide attempts at the bridge. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for help.