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Progress Made on Golden Gate Suicide Barrier

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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Four new metal protrusions can now be seen along the western and eastern flanks of the Golden Gate Bridge, marking visual progress on the suicide barrier that is being installed.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, the barrier, to total more than 380,000 square feet, with a roughly $200 million price tag, is currently slated for completion in January 2021. Ewa Bauer Furbush, chief engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, told the Marin that the barrier was the largest suicide deterrent net in the world.

Project History

The project officially kicked off with a ceremony in 2017, and fabrication of the stainless-steel netting and structural pieces began offsite in May 2018.

The job is being carried out by general contractor Shimmick/Danny’s Joint Venture, which won the job with a low bid of $142 million after a protracted planning and bidding period colored by steep cost increases. According to contract documents, the general contractor subcontracted coating work to F.D. Thomas, which was acquired by ASRC Industrial.

Rendering courtesy of Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District

Four new metal protrusions can now be seen along the western and eastern flanks of the Golden Gate Bridge, marking visual progress on the suicide barrier that is currently being installed on the bridge.

The original estimate for the job was $76 million, but in 2016 the low bid came in at nearly twice that, owing in part to changes made to the contract after the initial cost estimate was made. The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District said at the time that the original specification called for a type of steel only manufactured overseas; the spec was changed after discussions with the contractors to call for American-made stainless steel of a grade sufficient to stand up to the salt-spray environment around the bridge.

The net will consist of steel wires, about 5/32 of an inch thick, fastened to 8-inch-by-8-inch horizontal steel supports that will be cantilevered out from under the bridge. The plan to situate the net 20 feet down from the deck stems from the idea that a fall from that height will deter potential jumpers, as jumpers would likely sustain non-fatal injuries on impact with the net. Fines will likely be instituted as well, in order to discourage recreational jumping.

The net will be gray, in contrast with the bridge’s famous “International Orange” coloring, in order to blend with the water below.

Barrier Progress

According to the Marin, just installing the support beams and netting promises to be a $190 million effort; another $19 million is to be spent on a retrofitting the bridge to account for wind. Though the structure can withstand up to 70-mph winds from the west, the addition of the barrier would alter this, noted Furbush.

To address the issue, steel wind fairings will be installed on the western side of the bridge, and railing that runs along the sidewalk will be replaced with thinner pickets to allow for easier wind movement, Furbush added.

Other work includes the replacement of the bridge’s travelers, which run from the bridge’s sides to its underside to allow for maintenance work, with smaller options, and the installation of new railings to allow the travelers to move along the bridge.

When it comes to the barrier, metal support beams are to be installed first, followed by the netting and border cables. The condition of the barrier will be monitored for the next five years. Maintenance costs are estimated to total $4 million annually.

The district has also established a mockup net at its corporate yard to allow workers to work on installation training. According to the Marin, funding for the project totals: $74 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, $70 million from Caltrans, $60 million from Golden Gate Bridge District revenue and $7 million from the state.


Tagged categories: Bridges; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Stainless steel

Comment from William Feliciano, (2/26/2019, 8:36 AM)

Was the option of altering the existing pedestrian rail to make it taller and curved inward considered?

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