City Building Barriers
posted by March 25 at 12:45 PMon
Dexter & Highway 99
It will still be a few years until a suicide barrier is constructed on the Aurora Bridge. But after much grumbling, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the City Council and neighbors from Queen Anne and Fremont have finally gotten a start on the design process.
Neighbors are concerned about a possible view-obstructing eye-sore, and have been pushing for everything from under-bridge walkways to nets, and many of the ideas just aren’t cost effective.
Right now, WSDOT has $1.3 million to study and design a suicide barrier for the bridge, which has the second highest number of bridge-suicides, behind the Golden Gate.
If everything goes according to plan, WSDOT will receive another $6.2 million from the state to complete the barrier project by 2010. Half of the project’s budget will go towards installing a new lighting system on the half-mile bridge, which has slimmed down the number of available options for the barrier.
Last month, WSDOT held a community design meeting, where artists worked with neighbors to come up with an agreeable design. WSDOT is clearly leaning towards a fence or enclosure, which is relatively inexpensive, compared to some of the other wild ideas being tossed around.
Check out the designs after the break:
According to some of the comments in WSDOT’s current report, neighbors reactions seem mixed.
This is great! I love the transparency and how it echoes the mountain aspect. Art makes people want to live.
Will this whistle in the wind and clang? [Consider that] things that fl y off of vehicles (wheels). A bicycle fell onto a houseboat once.
The “Blades of Grass” can be an eclectic design much like quirky Fremont.
I prefer undulating or vertical [design] to box panels.
Despite the focus on building a barrier, some neighbors are pushing to close pedestrian access to the bridge to preserve the scenic view. However, WSDOT Spokesman Gregg Phipps says closing the bridge isn’t an option, and that while neighbors have gotten fairly creative with their proposals, a number of them just aren’t feasible.
One proposal involves putting netting under the bridge, to preserve the view, but Phipps says while the up-front costs of installing a net are relatively low, it’s just not cost effective. A net would have to be replaced every few years, plus there are issues with access to emergency services and clean-up of trash and debris. There’s also no evidence a net would work, Phipps says.
The idea of putting sidewalks under the bridge was also floated around at the meeting, but while it may be more aesthetically pleasing, Phipps says, the idea is rife with problems. The project would undoubtedly be prohibitively expensive, and WSDOT is also concerned about the safety of the walkway, which would not be visible from the street. WSDOT believes the lack of visibility could lead to muggings or other criminal activity, unless the pathway was constantly monitored, which, again, would be financially infeasible.
WSDOT expects design work to be done this spring, and hopes to start construction in early 2009.