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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

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Temporary suicide barriers to go up on Vista Bridge

July 9, 2013 | Portland Commissioner Steve Novick has approved an emergency request from the Bureau of Transportation to erect temporary suicide barriers on Vista Bridge in Southwest Portland. The request for an Emergency Construction Contract asks for $236,000, and would offer a temporary solution to go into effect immediately, according to the request from David O'Longaigh, the bureau's supervising bridge engineer.

The black screens, constructed by Tapani Inc., would be nine feet high and could be removed without permanent impact on the bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The money would come from PBOT through contingency funds, Novick said.

The 1926 bridge, which spans MAX tracks and busy Southwest Jefferson Street, has long been called "Suicide Bridge." The public nature and increasing numbers of suicides at the bridge prompted the action, according to Novick.

Last month, a 15-year old Beaverton girl jumped to her death from the bridge, the third suicide from the historic span this year. That equals the highest number of Vista Bridge suicides in any year in the past decade.

Under certain conditions, a commissioner can declare an emergency "when the public's safety is endangered," according to a statement by the transportation bureau. The three suicides in the first six months of "has created a substantial threat to the welfare and safety of the public above and below the bridge," Novick said.

The temporary screens will serve until a permanent screen can be installed, as funding is found, Novick said. The estimated cost for permanent barriers is $2.5 to $3 million. The City will seek federal funding, Novick said, but the next three-year cycle begins in 2015 and actual money would not be available until 2018 or later. Mayor Charlie Hales supports Novick's request for a temporary solution, Novick said. Construction could begin next week and wrap up within three weeks, Novick said.

A temporary solution may not sit well with READ FULL ARTICLE