Hours after police spent 13 hours successfully convincing a woman not to jump off the Colorado Street Bridge, City Manager Steve Mermell declared an emergency and authorized the city to spend $295,932 to expand the fencing along both sides of the 1,400-foot long landmark structure.
Mermell invoked a section of the Pasadena Municipal Code which allows for an immediate purchase of material or services without competitive bidding at the lowest obtainable price. A report is required if the amount exceeds $75,000. Mermell said a report would be sent to the City Council.
“We have had four deaths from the Colorado Street Bridge this year,” Mermell said. “Across the country suicides are increasing, and we’ve seen an increase here locally. While we are moving with a request for proposals to design new barriers, we cannot leave the status quo in place until that process is completed and new, permanent railing installed.
“Therefore, in the interests of public safety, on an emergency basis as set forth in Pasadena Municipal Code section 4.08.150, the city will extend the alcove fencing the entire length of the bridge and close off the ends as best as possible to prevent people from walking out from the end of the bridge.”
Although police were successful in convincing the woman not to jump, the fencing hampered their efforts to pull her from the bridge. The woman managed to stay behind the fencing to avoid police. The marathon negotiations began Sunday night and ended just before noon Monday.
In July, two bodies were discovered underneath the bridge. Another body was found on Aug. 28.
Nine people died after jumping from the bridge in 2017. In the midst of the increase in jumpers, city officials installed 10-foot-tall fencing at the alcoves of the bridge to prevent suicides, but failed to close off the ends of bridge. Days after the fencing was installed a man walked through an opening and leapt to his death.
Concerns have risen since the City Council approved a project that has allowed Habitat for Humanity to build nine homes and a playground just beneath the 105-year-old bridge.
According to a national study published last year that compared the effectiveness of various structural suicide prevention methods on bridges, including netting and barriers, barriers led to an 82 percent reduction rate in suicides.