April 14 (UPI) -- Construction of a 1.7-mile long suicide prevention barrier began on San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
In 2016, 39 people jumped to their deaths from the bridge, but about 200 more were dissuaded by bridge personnel, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District spokeswoman Priya Clemens said. In the 80 years since its construction, some 1,500 people have plummeted to their deaths from the structure.
Officials marked the start of the $200 million project, approved in 2014 and scheduled to be completed in 2021, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a memorial service Thursday for those who lost loved ones on the bridge. Among those attending were Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Cal., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
"What a bittersweet day this is. The joy of the prospect of saving lives, the sadness of those we lost," Pelosi said.
Plans call for the installation of stainless steel catch fences on each side of the bridge, positioned 20 feet away from the bridge, 20 feet below the bridge's sidewalks and 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean. They will not be in drivers' fields of vision.