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Senator's bill would speed up Coronado Bridge suicide prevention project

Bill would create task force to oversee project
Posted at 7:50 AM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 10:50:33-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) - A bill before the California Senate aims to fast-track construction of suicide prevention barriers on the Coronado Bridge.

Senate Bill 656 is sponsored by San Diego's Ben Hueso. It would create a task force to oversee Caltrans on the project and keep it from getting bogged down by red tape.

"It can't wait," says Hueso, "Because as we're going through this process, people are jumping from the bridge."

Since 2012, an average of 17 people have committed suicide on the bridge each year.

The bill goes before a committee Tuesday morning. If it passes, the full Senate will vote on it in the afternoon.

Caltrans recently completed a feasibility study on the bridge. They identified 11 options for suicide barriers but didn't make any recommendations or decisions on what to build.

RELATED: Caltrans completes Coronado Bridge Study

In addition to the bill in the Senate, Hueso sent a letter to the Budget Committee asking for $10 million in appropriations to advance the project.

"I was born and raised in this neighborhood, and this bridge has always been a part of my life," says Hueso. "But it wasn't designed with safety in mind."

In February, Caltrans installed spike strips on the sides of the bridge to discourage people from jumping. Suicide Prevention advocates say there have still been at least three suicides since then.

RELATED: Suicide prevention spikes installed along Coronado Bridge

They're calling for a more permanent solution.

"We need to get this done as fast as possible to save as many lives as we can," says Rhonda Haiston, one of the founders of the Coronado San Diego Bridge Collaborative for Suicide Prevention. "If it takes 5 or 10 more years, you can do that math on how many people will die. That's just unacceptable."

In a statement, Caltrans says they don't comment on pending legislation. A spokesperson says Caltrans is currently working on the Project Initiation Document, which they hope to complete by the end of 2019.

RELATED: New bill hopes to fast track bridge barrier project

If you're contemplating suicide, call the San Diego Crisis Hotline at 888-724-7240.