Nets going up to prevent suicides at Sunshine Skyway bridge

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Nets will be going up along a portion of Florida's Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which spans the mouth of Tampa Bay and has become a magnet for suicides.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday that the steel mesh nets will be installed along a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) section of the bridge, which reaches heights of 200 feet (60 meters) above the water.

The nets will extend 8 feet (2.4 meters) above the concrete barriers on the bridge, which carries Interstate 275 between Pinellas and Manatee counties.

Similar netting is used at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Authorities say the Skyway bridge is one of the four deadliest in the U.S. for suicides. Highway Patrol records show 248 people have died jumping from the span since it opened in 1987. Last year, the Times reported there were 12 suicides.

State Transportation Department officials say the $3 million project is scheduled to begin in June. The design is intended to allow drivers to see through the mesh, to permit adequate inspections and to prevent birds from crashing into it.

There are also crisis call boxes and surveillance cameras on the bridge.

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