800px-GoldenGateBridge-001.jpgA Metropolitan Transportation Commission committee has approved the allocation of $5 million toward the design of a net system to prevent suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The MTC’s Programming and Allocations Committee unanimously approved the funding Wednesday. The full commission will vote on whether to approve the funds July 28.

The $5 million is part of $15 million in additional federal funding the commission is receiving for fiscal year 2009-2010.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District’s Board of Directors will vote whether to accept the funding on Aug. 13, district spokeswoman Mary Currie said.

Once the funding is finalized, the final design of the net system will take 18 months to complete, Currie said. Funding sources for its construction, estimated at $45 million, have not yet been identified.

The district’s policy is not to use any bridge toll money for the suicide prevention system.
The net would be built 20 feet below the sidewalk on the bridge and extend 20 feet horizontally from it.

Its support system would be painted “international orange” to match the bridge, but the stainless steel netting itself would not be painted or coated.

The net system was one of several suicide barrier options considered, including higher fencing along the bridge’s existing 4-foot railing and a no-build alternative. The net system, known as Alternative 3, was the district’s preferred option.

An average of two dozen people commit suicide by jumping from the iconic span each year.

The Marin County coroner’s office released a report last year stating more than 1,250 people have jumped from the bridge since it opened in 1937. Others have estimated the number is closer to 1,300 or more.

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