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Public Invited to Air Thoughts on Proposed Barrier for Cold Spring Canyon Bridge

An open forum will be held Wednesday evening as Caltrans recirculates environmental documents for the project

After months of legal wrangling, a public hearing will be held Wednesday to showcase new environmental documents for the proposed Cold Spring Canyon Bridge suicide barrier project.

The open forum will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at San Marcos High School, 4750 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara, and people can attend at any time during the two hours.

Fifty-four suicides have occurred on the bridge that spans the gap between the South Coast and the Santa Ynez Valley since it was built in 1963, prompting state and local groups to advocate for a barrier.

Last July, a judge ruled that Caltrans, the agency in charge of the project, had left out information in its environmental documents, which one group said included viable alternatives.

The group, Friends of the Cold Spring Bridge, sued Caltrans over the indiscretion and eventually won, with the new documents being recirculated to the public.

In a statement sent Tuesday to Noozhawk, the group said the horizontal barrier alternative, formerly left out, was supported by the State Historic Preservation Officer and would serve to both preserve the bridge’s views and deter suicides.

“Friends of the Cold Spring Bridge understands that Caltrans and many in the community are firmly committed to constructing a physical suicide barrier on the bridge, and we are hopeful that this new public process with yield a decision to construct a better barrier — one that will protect lives, historic resources and views,” Marc McGinnes, the group’s founder, said in the statement.

The group will have information about the horizontal barriers on hand at Wednesday’s workshop, and more information can be found on its Web site.

Last month, a judge ruled that Caltrans must pay nearly $125,000 in legal fees to Friends of the Bridge, saying the group “enforced an important right affecting the public interest.” Construction for the project has been put on hold until the new documents finish recirculating.

For more information about the bridge’s history and the barrier process, click here for Noozhawk’s project on the bridge.

Caltrans staff will be available to answer questions Wednesday, and the public is invited to put their comments on the record. Written comments can be submitted until Jan. 24 to Caltrans, 50 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, Attn. Matt Fowler, senior environmental planner, or by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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