Advocates for suicide prevention found an ally in the Port of San Diego for the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge Proposed Artistic Lighting Project.
It is the beginning of a collaborative effort among those who want to light up the Coronado Bridge and those who want to make it safer.
The group "Lives Before Lights" thought they would have a fight on their hands at Tuesday’s Coronado council meeting. Instead, they found an ally.
The decade long effort to light up the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge is moving to the next phase which now includes the good possibility of safety nets or fencing.
Wayne Strickland is pleased to put down his placard and share his long time efforts with Port San Diego, to secure the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge with safety features that discourage suicide.
“We had these signs up we were ready with the guns,” Strickland said.
Port of San Diego Chairman Marshall Merrifield came to Coronado City Council Tuesday night to give members an update on the project to light up the bridge.
"Lives Before Lights" came to protest the Port's agenda and promote its own during the public speaking portion of the meeting.
“My three children, who are in their 20's know someone personally, who has used this bridge as an easy, convenient way out,” one woman said.
“We need to help these people. The bridge is too easy for them. Too easy to just get out and jump over,” another woman said.
Strickland says since it's opening, 375 people died in accidents on the bridge or from jumping off of it. The group has helped raise over $10,000 to study the effects of bridge suicides benefits of barriers.
“It's a big economic impact having the bridge closed. It affects all this island the naval bases and everybody else,” Strickland said.
It took no convincing though to get the Port of San Diego on board.
“It's a very important topic for us and the county and we would be happy to help in any way we can,” Part of San Diego Chairman Marshall Merrifield said.
Caltrans owns and operates the bridge, but the Port has agreed to advocate for a combined lights and safety barrier proposal.
The light project enters phase two this year, which is engineering and design.
Strickland has secured a meeting with the Port Commissioner and CEO to talk about one plan to satisfy both groups.