Report: George Washington Bridge to get fence to prevent suicides

Traffic moves over the Hudson River and across the George Washington Bridge between New York City, and Fort Lee, New Jersey, on December 17, 2013. John Moore/Getty Images

FORT LEE, N.J. - The George Washington Bridge spanning New York and New Jersey is getting a fence to help curb suicides as the number of deaths there approaches record levels.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says there have been 13 suicides and 40 rescues on the span so far this year. There were 16 deaths for all of 2013.

Plans call for erecting a 9-foot fence to replace the current railing to make jumping from the bridge difficult.

Chief structural engineer Bernie Yostpile tells The Record newspaper that the project will cost $37 million to $47 million and will be completed in 2022.

Until then, the Port Authority has increased patrols, improved lighting and installed security cameras.

Dale Carnhi, director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's metro New York region, told The Record that the number of suicides at the bridge has been "about six people per year."

"But 13 this year? Wow. I didn't know that," Carnhi said.

In California, the Golden Gate Bridge over the San Francisco Bay received approval in June for a $76 million funding package for a net system that would prevent people from jumping to their deaths.

CBS San Francisco reported that relatives of victims who committed suicide on the bridge packed the standing-room only board meeting about the funding package and cheered the decision, some with tears in their eyes. They exclaimed, "We did it", when the decision was announced.

Since it opened in 1937, more than 1,400 people have plunged to their deaths, including a record 46 suicides last year, officials said.

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