San Diego State students present fence plans to prevent suicides, other deaths on Coronado Bridge

Caltrans gives input on class project
Posted at 7:50 AM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 10:50:16-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego State University College of Engineering students Wednesday will present plans to install a fence on the Coronado Bridge as part of their final project for a Senior Engineering Design class.

Their plan, according to people who have seen it, is similar to the fence lining the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge in Santa Barbara.

"I'm giving them an A+ if I were to grade it," said Wayne Strickland, president of the Coronado San Diego Bay Bridge Collaboration for Suicide Prevention. "It includes not only suicide prevention fence, but vehicles stopped from going over the side."

Both topics have been in the news quite a bit recently. Already in 2017, five people have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. In 2016, 17 people did the same, the second-most in a single year since the bridge was built.

Meanwhile, four people died in October 2016 when a truck flew off the bridge and landed on a gathering in Chicano Park.

"I hope Caltrans takes it and runs with it and gets something done as soon as possible because we don't need any more lives lost," said Strickland.

Jim Haughey is one of the adjunct professors teaching the Engineering Design class. He said they get input from several cities and agencies who have projects in the works.

"The plan is that they can at least get an idea from a preliminary level on what may or may not work," Haughey said.

Employees from Caltrans also advised the students on the project, although they still don't have funding for a barrier or any specific plans to start building one.

But the wheels are in motion.

Sen. Ben Hueso recently guided a bill through the state Senate to provide funding for studies on bridge safety. Those studies could lead to a barrier in the coming years.

"It's all about saving lives," ssaid Strickland. "I've got friends who have lost sons and daughters. It's too many deaths, and now they're finally doing something."

"I love San Diego," Haughey added. "We need to do things like this to really protect the community."

The presentation is part of "Design Day" at SDSU. It's from 1:30 p.m.- 3:30 p.m. at Montezuma Hall in the Student Union. It's open to the public.