February 17th, 2011 by Sean Keeley
The construction of a suicide prevention fence along the Aurora Bridge has been completed, according to a report by The Seattle Times. City officials and Seattle residents now hope it can prevent more people from joining the list of 230 jumpers who have leapt to their deaths from the bridge to date.
Construction of the 8-foot, 9-inch-tall safety fence started in the fall and cost $5 million, according to a state Department of Transportation news release. The Legislature’s 2009-2011 transportation budget included $3.6 million to build the fence.
The fence’s construction was lobbied for by Fremont residents and those that work underneath it and was supported by the city of Seattle, King County and the state Legislature. Read more about the need for the fence and why it matters here.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, construction, suicide fence, suicide prevention, The Seattle Times, WSDOT
November 29th, 2010 by Marina Gordon
If you’ve driven over the Aurora Bridge lately, you’ve noticed the posts for the long-planned suicide fence rising from the west side of bridge.
WSDOT Aurora Bridge Fence Mock-Up. Photo courtesy of WSDOT.
The Washington State Department of Transportation sent out some information recently on the status of the project:
Yes, those are fence posts sprouting up on the west side of the bridge. Crews begin installing the posts on the night Monday, Nov. 8, and are getting 20 to 30 done each night. So far they’ve installed about a third of the 684 posts that will make up the fence. If you’ve been looking closely as the fence posts go up, you might have a few questions. And we have the answers:
Q. Why is the first fence post at N. 34th Street in Fremont? Is that where the fence begins?
A. No, the fence will begin just north of N. 36th Street right above the Fremont Troll.
Q. But the posts don’t begin until N. 36th Street. Are you sure the fence goes all the way to the Troll?
A. Yes, the posts all look the same, but they differ in how they connect to the bridge. Six different ways, in fact, and there are five different types of posts. These post-to-bridge connections depend in part on whether the post is attached to the steel middle section or the concrete sections at the north and south ends. It turns out that the fence manufacturer completed the posts that connect to the steel sections first and so the contractor is installing them first. The posts in the concrete sections on the west side of the bridge will go up in the next week or two.
Q. Why are there gaps between some of the posts?
A. The gaps indicate locations where we must complete repairs before installing posts. As you may remember, crews discovered corrosion in 23 beams about three months ago. We determined the beams would need to be strengthened before we attached the fence posts at those locations and added this work to the construction contract. We completed part of the repair and are waiting for a manufacturer to build and deliver the steel braces that will reinforce the beams.
Q. When will the fence be done?
A. We had hoped to have the fence done by the end of the year, but the added repair work has taken longer than we anticipated. It also appears that panel installation may take more time as well. These two factors will delay completion by about a month, into early 2011.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, suicide fence, update, WSDOT
November 5th, 2010 by Doug Alder
Work to build a suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge has been underway for months, but there’s still no sign of the fence itself. WSDOT tells us that will all change next week when crews start putting up the fence posts on the west side of the bridge.
So what’s taking so long? WSDOT says it has been dealing with small details they hope will make a big difference in the end. They drilled about 2600 holes for anchor bolts, used an x-ray device to make sure they didn’t hit rebar, and repaired the bridge’s steel that was damaged by corrosion.
The fence posts will go up first, followed by the fence panels. The fence should be finished by the end of the year. Image from WSDOT
Tags: Aurora Bridge, suicide fence, WSDOT
September 28th, 2010 by Doug Alder
For the second year in a row, a Wallingford pastor will lead a group of people back and forth across the Aurora Bridge as part of a 24 hour prayer vigil. The vigil, set for October 8 and 9, is designed to bring attention to the problem of suicide jumpers.
Pastor Heath Rainwater, a Seattle firefighter who also leads the Vine Christian Ministries in Wallingford, started the “Take Back the Bridge Project” after responding to a suicide on the bridge. He was with the fire crews staging at the bottom of the bridge when he looked up and saw what was happening up top.
“I could see the young man. He was desperate,” Rainwater recently told KIRO-FM. “My heart wanted to be on top of the bridge saying something that could give him hope.”
Unfortunately, that young man jumped and died instantly. The “Take Back the Bridge Project” now helps raise money for the Crisis Clinic in Seattle which fields tens of thousands of calls a year. Rainwater says he also hopes the new suicide prevention fence currently being built across the Aurora Bridge will help.
“The reason why we’re so happy about the fence is it causes that separation of time for you to be able to get through that moment when you would impulsively jump and make a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” said Rainwater.
The 24 hour prayer vigil starts Friday, October 8 at 11am. That’s followed by a community march across the bridge on Saturday, October 9 at 12pm. Click here for more information or to register.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, suicide fence
September 23rd, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai
Just when you thought WSDOT was finally done with its work on the Aurora Bridge, it turns out crews found more rivets to remove. Crews found the rivets when they began repairing corroded steel portions of the bridge at 23 fence post locations.
Photo from WSDOT
It means more lane closures and planning for traffic delays if you’re using the bridge this weekend.
- On Saturday, Sept.25, two out of the three northbound lanes will be closed from 5:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
- On Sunday, Sept. 26, two out of three northbound lanes will be closed from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. until midnight. Seahawks fans, WSDOT is giving you that window of opportunity to use all the lanes from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate post game traffic.
There are a total of 186 additional rivets that must be removed as part of the steel repair work. The rivets are located under the bridge in tight areas where access is difficult, requiring at least two more weekends to bust them out.
WSDOT can provide you with industrial strength earplugs if all this racket is causing too many sleepless nights. Call its 24-hour noise hotline, 206-440-4099, for more information.
The work is part of a WSDOT project to install an anti-suicide fence on the outer railing of the bridge. Work began in May.
Unfortunately, there was a recent suicide from the bridge on Sept. 11. One of our readers, Ryan Healy, who lives on 34th across the street from the Lake Washington Rowing Club, and has a view directly of the bridge and water beneath it, e-mailed us to let us know.
I heard her scream and looked up in time to see her hit the water with a loud and large splash. I called 911 and I thought I saw her swimming on the surface. A pleasure boater came to her rescue and pulled her on to the boat but she was motionless. After the police and fire crews arrived and were about finished I walked down near the Lake Washington Rowing Club dock to check on her condition. I asked a fire department official if she was going to be ok. His response was simple: “No.”
This is the second suicide I’ve seen in the past 5 months.
Seattle Police confirmed there was a successful suicide from the bridge that day at about the same time as our reader mentioned, about 1:15 p.m.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, construction, lane group, Rivet Buster, suicide fence, WSDOT
September 1st, 2010 by Doug Alder
After three consecutive Sundays of rivet busting and lane closures on the Aurora Bridge, crews will take this Sunday off to keep traffic moving smoothly over the Labor Day weekend. Rivet removal, along with the ”rivet buster” equipment, will pick up again on September 12.
Crews continue to work Monday through Thursday nights drilling holes for the suicide prevention fence across the bridge.
Photos from WSDOT
Tags: Aurora Bridge, suicide fence, WSDOT
August 20th, 2010 by Doree
For the second Sunday in a row, the Washington State Department of Transportation crews will be closing lanes on the Aurora Bridge this weekend while crews work on the ‘rivet buster’ suicide fence. Commuters planning a trip downtown on Sunday should plan for delays or take an alternate route.
Photo from WSDOT’s Flickr page.
Crews will be working on the east side of the bridge, closing down two northbound lanes.
Access to northbound SR 99 from Halladay near Canlis will be open. Lane closures will be from 6 a.m. to midnight again, with the noisy work beginning as early as 7 p.m. and continuing until 11 p.m. Since they will be on the east side of the bridge, the sound will likely travel further into Lake Union this time.
WSDOT has been posting some pretty incredible photos of the work, which will continue through September 5, on its Flickr page. Check those out here.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, construction, lane closures, Rivet Buster, suicide fence, traffic, work, WSDOT
August 19th, 2010 by Thea
Last night PI photographer Josh Trujillo, a former colleague of our Fremont Universe site editor Athima Chansanchai, saw a woman hop a rail on the Aurora Bridge in an attempt to jump. Josh called 911, and then began tweeting live about it, confronting the question of whether or not the media should cover suicides and attempts. Athima wrote,
Reading his tweets this morning, the story ends without tragedy at about 9:30 p.m.: “Good news. Young girl on Aurora Bridge is over the rail, back on the safe side. Police boats leaving from under bridge. Amen.”
His tweets about her began about 13 hours ago, about 7:30 p.m.: “No. A girl is on the Aurora Bridge about to jump. My heart is sinking. Police not here yet.”
I know Josh, so I know how sincere he is, so I don’t question how hard this must have been for him. This is a guy who was in the Army and deployed overseas before he was a photographer. He’s a consummate professional and he’s also a family man.
The irony is, the state is installing an anti-suicide fence on the bridge, and have been for a while.
While Josh was watching—and tweeting—as events unraveled, he witnessed another onlooker, a woman on the Fremont Bridge who said she’d been waiting in traffic for an hour, say loudly that the girl should “jump already.”
He also wrote that he felt “uncomfortable tweeting this one. This is awful.”
Another tweet: “FYI, I used to live under the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge. A jumper once landed in my yard. That was a terrible day. Hope today is better.”
Read Athima’s full story here. And tell us what you think about it.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, Fremont Universe, Josh Trujillo, suicide attempt, suicide fence, Tweeting
August 2nd, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai
Even Nyquil won’t help you get your Zzzz’s if you live near the Aurora Bridge and you’ve heard it. By “it,” we mean that “loud as a monster woodpecker banging on a metal tree” sound that might have interrupted a few good nights’ rest.
It’s the latest development in the Aurora Bridge Fence Project (the anti-suicide barrier) from WSDOT. We’ll let them tell it:
A couple of weeks ago our contractor began using a tool called the Rivet Buster to remove rivets and bolts on the historic bridge. In many ways the Rivet Buster was a great tool. It was fast, efficient, safe and environmentally sound. But it was really loud. Can’t get any sleep loud. So loud that some of your neighbors got up in the middle of the night to write us or call our 24-hour noise hotline (206-440-4099). And we listened.
As of this posting the Rivet Buster is on hiatus while we look into quieter ways to remove the rivets and bolts that meet our safety and environmental standards, and keep us on schedule. If those don’t pan out, the Rivet Buster will be on a 10 p.m. curfew.
Counter-intuitively, WSDOT says the work can’t be done during the day.
It comes down to safety and traffic. Workers need to close two lanes of the bridge to create a safe work zone. When two out of three lanes are closed at night, traffic can scoot by without many slowdowns. But if we closed two out of three lanes during the day, that could cause some lengthy backups on Aurora Avenue and send the spillover traffic over to Fremont and Dexter avenues.
It’s a delicate balancing act where one person’s cost is another person’s benefit. The bus rider that gets on the 358 at N. 46 St. wants to get to work on time. The person living under the bridge wants a good night’s sleep. The taxpayer wants the project to stay on budget. And the construction worker wants to come home safe. And yes, we really do think about how our decisions affect each of them.
They expect to have the work done by the end of this year or early 2011.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, Aurora Bridge Fence Project, construction, Late Nights, noise, suicide fence, WSDOT
May 24th, 2010 by Thea
Construction on the Aurora Bridge “suicide fence” will finally begin tonight, Monday, May 24 after weeks of delays and postponements due to equipment problems – the month of noisy nighttime construction was supposed to begin back on April 19.
Beginning tonight and on Thursday, May 27 WSDOT will be closing the two northbound lanes and the northbound sidewalk across the Aurora Bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. so that crews can install environmental safeguards and temporary construction lighting. From WSDOT:
- Some of this work will be noisy. When possible, we will shield noise sources to minimize the effects on those near the bridge. Please call (206.440.4099) or e-mail us and we will send free earplugs to your mailbox. Please include your name, address and the number of earplug sets you need.
- Earplugs are also available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays at the Fremont Neighborhood Service Center located at 908 N. 34th Street.
WSDOT expects to finish work on the ‘suicide fence’ in late 2010 or early 2011. Read up on the project, see digital images of what the fence will look like and follow the project progress here.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, construction, lane closures, noise, SDOT, suicide fence, traffic
May 3rd, 2010 by Doug Alder
Construction delays on the new suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge continue to grow. It now appears that work won’t begin until mid-May. The project, which was supposed to start April 19, has been delayed by construction equipment problems. You can track the project here.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, suicide fence
April 21st, 2010 by Thea
Residents who live near the Aurora Bridge will have a few nights of relief from the month of expected nighttime noise surrounding the construction of a nine-foot safety fence over the bridge. WSDOT announced today that construction on the fence, which was scheduled to begin on Monday night, April 19, will be postponed due to an equipment problem. A new estimated start date for the work has not yet been announced.
When construction on the safety fence does begin, crews will work Sunday through Thursday nights and will work on one side of the bridge at a time. Construction will close two lanes and the adjacent sidewalk across the bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly. WSDOT expects to finish installing the fence by the end of the year.
When construction does start up again, WSDOT says it will be extremely noisy. If you still haven’t received your free industrial strength earplugs, call 206-267-6019. Follow the fence project progress here.
Tags: Aurora Bridge, construction, safety fence, suicide fence, traffic, work, WSDOT