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Officials Considering Barriers On Portland's Vista Bridge To Prevent Suicide

OPB | June 7, 2013 8:22 a.m. | Updated: June 10, 2013 4:57 p.m. | Portland

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Portland officials are discussing whether to put barriers on the Vista Bridge. The span in Southwest Portland was the site of another death by suicide Wednesday. Fifteen-year-old Marina Hamblin-Rock of Beaverton was the latest person to jump from the bridge.

Steve Novick is the city’s new Transportation Commissioner. Novick says when Mayor Charlie Hales was still heading the Bureau, he got an estimate to expand the bridge’s railing. The cost: $2.5 million dollars. Novick says he’s convinced of the value of a barrier.

Novick said, “A strange thing about suicide is that convenience matters a lot. There are people who will die because there was a handy firearm or bridge when they were at their worst point. Would people go to another bridge if they didn’t happen to have that one available? I thinking a number of cases the answer would be no.”

But he’s not sure how the city would find that kind of money when bureaus are making deep cuts, and other safety priorities need attention, too.

Neighbors have expressed concerns that barriers might not be effective, or might change the character of the scenic bridge. Others wonder whether the public attention might simply draw more people suffering mental health crises.

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