Suicide prevention project at Columbia parking garage to be tendered

The City of Columbia is moving to the next phase of parking lot safety improvements at Fifth and Walnut Streets after more than half a dozen suicides of the structure since it opened in 2011.

The Columbia City Council has authorized the city to solicit bids to place metal screen coverings over window spaces on the upper levels of the garage, according to plans attached to Monday’s council agenda.

Columbia Public Works is working with the city’s purchasing department to establish a bid period schedule, public works spokesman John Ogan wrote in an email.

Continued: New security barriers under construction at Columbia at the Fifth and Walnut parking garage

The approval of the offers will be done by the city.

The city plans to install protective screens over the garage window openings on Fifth and Walnut streets.  This is similar to what they might look like.

Once approved, the construction schedule will largely depend on the availability of steel and how quickly a fabricator can fulfill the order, Ogan wrote. The city is aiming for a summer start date, according to the staff letter attached to the council agenda.

“This is a custom project with 150 garage openings of varying lengths,” Ogan wrote. “Due to the varying lengths of the openings, the design could potentially use a panel-based approach.”

Continued: Upper levels of Fifth and Walnut parking garage closed ahead of security upgrades

Thus, a standard-sized panel could be created, with each opening requiring a specific number of panels, he added. Everything will depend on the length of the opening.

The estimated construction cost for this phase of the security project is $504,000, which will come from the City’s general fund.

Upper level fencing for parking garage in place

The first phase of the security project was to install fencing with an inward arch on the upper level of the nine-story garage by Central Fence LLC of Vienna. They were installed in January.

Research on security upgrades for the garage dates back to 2019.

Each floor of the garage is equipped with security cameras and funds were allocated in October 2020 for the first phase of the project.

Continued: City of Columbia receives bid to improve security at parking lot notorious for suicides

Temporary measures were taken before the construction of the fences, such as the temporary closing of the two upper levels of the garage before the construction of the fence.

The delay between research, funding approval and deal clearance was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain limitation, city spokesperson Sydney Olsen said. in September.

Using safety barriers such as fences or window screens has a deterrent effect on someone at risk of suicide, said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. , in 2019.

Continued: Petition renews calls for updated safety measures at Columbia’s Fifth and Walnut garage after recent suicide

“We know people use what’s accessible,” she said at the time. “That’s the problem with something like parking garages. It’s a problem across the country. And that’s a problem with a relatively simple solution, which is gates or fences. Research shows that when you limit access to lethal means, you can save lives.

“…Barriers give time. It gives the crisis time to slow down a bit so the person can think a bit more.”

The National Suicide Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is always open. The Missouri Department of Mental Health also offers resources through its website.

The Mid-Missouri Crisis Line is 1-800-395-2132 and the Missouri Suicide/Crisis Hotline is 314-469-6644.