In 2005, community pressure led to the creation of a task force to consider suicide prevention measures for Cold Spring Canyon Bridge.

A number of barrier alternatives were considered to supplement the bridge rail, which stands 3 feet, 7 inches from the roadway and 2 feet, 7 inches from the concrete curbs. After much debate, it was decided that grid/wire mesh barriers would be erected along each side of the bridge and running its entire 1,200-foot length. The 9-foot-7-inch fencing would use welded wire in a square grid pattern, spaced one to two inches apart. “Due to the small opening, which would be difficult to gain a foothold or handhold, the mesh would not be scalable by most people,” according to the environmental impact report.

The barrier design was selected based on an environmental and aesthetic analysis, and was determined to meet the purpose and need of the project. All of the alternatives were recognized to diminish the historical quality of the bridge, which is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the federal government’s official list of structures, districts, sites, buildings and objects deemed worthy of preservation.

Alternatives that were eliminated after consideration:

» A fence with horizontal posts curved inward, that was considered too “ladder-like”

» A safety net, which was considered unrealistic given the remoteness of the location and danger to rescue personnel

» A partial barrier, which didn’t span the length of the bridge, could be avoided

» Restricting parking access at pullouts and lookout points

» Prohibiting pedestrians from walking on Highway 154 was considered difficult to enforce

» Implementing more interactive measures such as call boxes, video cameras, surveillance patrols, signs, lighting and public education was also considered

Suicide prevention strategies were discussed by the 2005 Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge Suicide Prevention Committee, which included representatives from ACCESS Team, Caltrans, Family Service Agency’s 2-1-1 Helpline, the Glendon Association, law enforcement, Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and the county Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services. The strategies discussed included:

» Signage with suicide hotline numbers, call boxes and/or video cameras

» Lighting

» Safety barrier or fence

» Safety net

» Restricted pedestrian, bicycle and parking access

» Public education and increased awareness that dialing 9-1-1 is the best way to notify law enforcement in emergencies

Noozhawk’s Cold Spring Canyon Bridge Series

» Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.

» Click here for the first story in Noozhawk’s four-day series on Cold Spring Canyon Bridge: Public Safety, Preservation Collide on Cold Spring Canyon Bridge.

» Click here for Day Two’s main story: Creativity a Hallmark of Bridge Barrier Alternatives, Funding.

» Click here for Day Three’s main story: For Barrier Opponents, There’s No Bridging This Divide.

» Click here for Day Four’s main story: Bridge Barrier Debate May Be Resolved in Span of a Month.

» Click here for Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen’s explanation of our series.

» Click here for a timeline of Cold Spring Canyon Bridge.

» Click here for a list of landmark bridges around the world employing suicide-prevention barriers.

» Click here for Cold Spring Canyon Bridge facts and engineering numbers.

» Leading Off: Just What Can We Say, and How? Suicide is a touchy topic for the media. Here’s what Noozhawk does, and why.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at