Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

June 9, 2013

Portlanders push for barrier at 'Suicide Bridge'

Niagara Gazette — PORTLAND, Ore. — On a sunny January afternoon, 12 stories above a busy street, a newly engaged 19-year-old woman jumped to her death from a spectacular arch bridge west of downtown Portland. Last month, in the middle of the night, a 40-year-old man did the same. Last week, yet another person — a 15-year-old girl — plunged from the span.

The deaths sadden but no longer surprise those who live and work near the Vista Bridge, known colloquially citywide as "The Suicide Bridge." They have come to expect such tragedies at the structure, from which there is a majestic vista of the city skyline; the opening shot of the TV series "Portlandia" was shot from the span.

Attorney Kenneth Kahn shares an office with his wife, a life coach, that sits almost directly underneath the bridge. Over the years he has heard the horrible slam of bodies on pavement and discovered the remains of eight strangers.

"Just imagine a human being detonating," he said.

Now the Kahns are leading a group, Friends of The Vista Bridge, that is pressing the city to install suicide-prevention barriers, a step taken at bridges throughout the world, from the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge in Santa Barbara, Calif., to the Bloor Street viaduct in Toronto and El Viaducto de Segovia in Madrid. Jumping from a bridge is an impulsive act. A barrier, the group contends, introduces a pause that may make someone think twice.

But the group, which formed after the January suicide, faces its own obstacle: money. City leaders, though receptive to the idea, are tackling a $20 million budget shortfall, and it is projected to cost $2.5 million to put architecturally appropriate barriers on the bridge, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The city may seek a federal grant.

"We certainly think of it as a high priority," City Commissioner Steve Novick said. "But there's a whole mess of competing priorities and not much money."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page