News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Get Your Earplugs! Fence Work Begins Soon on Aurora Bridge

By Doug Alder · April 8th, 2010 · 14 Comments

Residents who live near the Aurora Bridge may be in for some sleepless nights as work gets underway to build a fence across the landmark structure.  The work starts Monday, April 19 and will last for one month. 

Two lanes of traffic across the bridge will be closed Sunday through Thursday during construction from 9pm to 5am.   WSDOT tells us the work will be incredibly noisy.  In fact, they’re even offering free industrial strength earplugs for residents who call 206-267-6019. 

The Aurora Bridge has been the scene of countless suicides, and officials hope this new fence will discourage would-be jumpers.  To track this project, you can log on to WSDOT’s special page.

  • frustratedinfremont

    This remains one of the biggest wastes of government spending in some time. There are so many better ways to spend this cash, especially in the midst of the state’s financial predicament. We are so short sighted to understand that this will do nothing to curb the 4 suicides per year (there have been ~245 since the bridge opened in 1932). Why not spend the money talking to people, versus wasting our money on an approach that has zero proof for effectiveness in solving what should be the real problem….keeping people from killing themselves. What a giant waste of time, money, and now a month of sleepless nights. Thanks Olympia for failing me.

    • Name

      Where do you get your 4 suicides per year off this bridge? The press does not report suicide attempts (avoiding copycat behavior?). I live nearby and I can tell you, there has been more than 4 suicide attempts this year.

      • tiktok

        The press doesn’t report on each one when it happens, but it does get discussed. There have been about 230 total, so the average is about 2.95/year.

        On October 2, 2006 the PI reported the following Aurora jumper deaths, by year:

        1995: 4
        1996: 2
        1997: 3
        1998: 2
        1999: 1
        2000: 2
        2001: 2
        2002: 4
        2003: 3
        2004: 3
        2005: 5
        2006: 7

        I’ve worked right next to the bridge for the last ten years, and 4-6 deaths/year for the last few years sounds about right. I’m sure if had been more than the 2006 number, we would have heard about it.

        Contrast that with the Ship Canal, which in the same period averaged one per year. Apparently not enough of a problem to justify suicide phones, let alone a fence.

  • daffodil

    I disagree. Go read the NYT piece “The Urge to End It All”.

  • TheFremontTroll

    Chill out. It’s not going to be that loud. I’m just trolling BTW.

  • tiktok

    Given the cost and appearance, I hope it’s at least effective.

    How much did the suicide rate drop when the suicide hotline phones were installed?

  • frustratedinfremont

    It will not be effective, since there is no data that shows that someone is less likely to kill themselves because there is a fence on the bridge they wanted to jump off. I read the NYT article, and I agree it is very compelling and interesting. However, why not offer help versus a fence? Why are we disagreeing? The fence helps those that survive, not those that could have. It will only help alleviate the “trauma” for those that live below the bridge, which I see as selfish and missing the entire point of suicide PREVENTION. This is a major issue that we are wrapping into a fence to make ourselves feel better.


    • Friend

      I had a friend jump off the bridge a few years ago and I believe this won’t achieve much. He also had a gun with him so if the bridge didn’t seem appealing (or it was a last minute decision to jump), he could shoot himself. I also think, if there was a fence at the time, he would have seen it as a bigger challenge and that would have made it even more appealing to him to try.

      I also think this is a huge waste of money.

  • Tired Already

    By the end of a sleepless month, we’ll all be wanting to kill ourselves. But alas, by that time, we’ll have one fewer method for doing so. Thanks, Seattle. Thanks a lot.

  • W Mellon

    Total waste. Like putting a band-aid on a bowl of Jell-O.
    There remain millions of ways for people seeking to kill themselves to do so, this is a cynical, obnoxious, ignorant, and theatrical measure which will accomplish nothing. Except wrecking a legendary view. What nonsense.

  • fence support

    Glad to see the fence going up. I'll miss the view when I'm driving but I should probably be looking at the road anyway.

    It won't stop all suicides but it'll stop some.

    I find most of these complaints to be petty, falacious and misguided, esp. @ frustratedinfremont

    thanks for the link @ daffodil

  • Fremontom

    I believe that removing the pedestrian walkway would be more effective than a fence.

  • Name

    Studies HAVE actually shown that a fence prevents suicides. That's why they are putting this up. Apparently jumpers are a particular type of person, impulsive, etc, without a plan B to kill themselves if they are stopped by something like a fence. They rarely go off and find another method.

    And wow, the people below, who might be killed themselves by a jumper (it happens), or who have to clean up the mess, are selfish? Wow. Wow.

  • tiktok

    No-one has ever been killed by a falling jumper off the Aurora Bridge.
    It is extraordinarily unlikely.

    There's like a half-dozen people who live in the fall-zone, in house boats. I don't see why taxpayers should fork out millions for these folks. If you're squeamish about the possibility of seeing a jumper aftermath, don't live there.

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