- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Golden Gate Bridge is closer to having a long-debated, $76 million suicide barrier installed to stop dozens of people each year from jumping to their deaths from the San Francisco icon.

The Golden Gate Bridge board of directors approved a design for the barrier Friday, the San Jose Mercury News reported (https://bit.ly/1DWfWtB ).

The design calls for stainless-steel cable nets reaching out 20 feet from the bridge, 20 feet below the span. The cables will slightly collapse to absorb a person, making it difficult to get out until help arrives. Bids for the work are expected to be issued in March, the newspaper reported.

Construction could take three years, but an emotional discussion over installing a suicide barrier has spanned decades.

“This has been a long time coming,” board member and Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold said. “We are delighted to pass this and to get it going to start helping saving lives.”

More than 1,400 people have jumped to their deaths since the bridge opened in 1937. This total includes a record 46 suicides last year. Most jumpers suffer a grisly death, with massive internal injuries, broken bones and skull fractures. Some die from internal bleeding. Others drown.

Talk of installing a suicide barrier began in the 1950s with the first serious consideration made in the 1970s, when 18 designs were considered and then dismissed. A coalition of state agencies is paying for the project.

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Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, https://www.mercurynews.com

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