In a unanimous vote on Friday, it was decided by members of the Golden Gate Bridge's district in San Francisco that a massive steel net would be implemented on the bridge to prevent suicides. The project is to cost $76 million.
According to a report by the Associated Press, officials say that since it opened in 1937, over 1,400 people have jumped to their deaths from the iconic bridge, with a record number of suicides last year totaling 46. Seconds after the vote passed, a room full of supporters and family members of those who had jumped from the bridge, were reportedly in tears.
Bridge board member Janet Reilly told the room:
"The tragedy of today is that we can't go back in time, we can't save ... the people who jumped off the bridge. But the good thing, with this vote today, we can vote in their memory. . . . We will save many lives who have followed in their footsteps - and that's what so extraordinary about today."
The net idea had been talked about for decades before Friday's historic approval, but funding had been hard to come by. Barack Obama signed a bill into law recently that made federal funds available for the building of safety nets and protective barriers for bridges, which made the project easier on the state, who is providing $7 million in funds. Federal contribution to the project will reach $49 million and $20 million will come from the bridge, mostly in toll revenue.
Officials say that the net will not obstruct or mar the appearance of the bridge and it will stretch about 20 feet wide on either side. The construction of the net is supposed to start next year and is expected to be finished in 2018.