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Readers' Letters: Let's make it 'Suicide Prevention Bridge'

I live on Southwest Vista Avenue and have crossed the Vista Bridge countless times. This bridge is known for two things: its stunning views of the Portland skyline, with Mount Hood towering in the background, and suicide.

It even has the nickname “Suicide Bridge.”

Every time I cross the bridge, I cannot help but think about suicide and all the people who have taken their lives there. Recently, I learned that the city has made plans to install high fences along the bridge to prevent further suicides from taking place there. Although some people think this is a good measure toward suicide prevention, the grim reality is that this fence only would redirect suicides to other locations.

I can’t help but feel this is a poor use of city funds and efforts in the name of suicide prevention. While crossing the bridge today, I noticed colorful notes taped along the sides of the bridge where people potentially could jump. These notes had messages like, “Hi, how are you? Will you please call me? I’d like to talk to you.”

Also along the sidewalks were tin cans with notes, saying “Open me!” Inside, these cans contained small notes with positive messages.

Whether or not these positive and encouraging notes can prevent any suicides, this is the right idea and an approach the city should be taking with the bridge. While building a fence is reactive, these notes are proactive. Installing a fence there just sends the message, “Don’t take your life here.” On the other hand, the notes send the message, “Don’t take your life!”

And I would like to think that Portland is the kind of city that would embrace creative approaches and proactive solutions.What if Portland redirected funds that would be spent on a fence to a project of positive messages on the Vista Bridge? The person who left those notes probably spent a few hours making and posting them. Imagine what a community could do.

What if this bridge was no longer known as “Suicide Bridge,” and was known as “Suicide Prevention Bridge”?

Portland knows better than to just build a fence and call the problem solved. Fences don’t help people find happiness in their lives. But maybe a bridge full of uplifting messages will.

Roman Moretti

Southwest Portland

Bridge fence sends trouble elsewhere

Fencing the Vista Avenue Bridge will only send the determined to another location. I wonder what is next to be fenced — the river bridges, the seawall, the entire waterfront?

More money wasted, more freedoms lost.

Carl Ronson

Clackamas

Oregon recognizes value of clean diesel

According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon’s air meets all the health-based air quality standards for all pollutants (“Diesel fume standards must be stricter,” July 25). Adoption of new clean diesel engines and equipment is one of the fastest ways to reduce emissions.

Commercial heavy-duty trucks manufactured since 2007 have near-zero emissions of particulate matter. In addition, those manufactured after 2010 also have near-zero emissions of nitrogen oxides, a precursor to smog.

Our analysis shows that Oregon is above the national average on uptake of new clean diesel trucks (those 2007 or newer) — 29.9 percent of all commercial trucks compared to 28 percent nationwide. TriMet just announced 70 new

2013 clean diesel and hybrid diesel electric buses, bringing clean diesel technology to local transit service. Not only does the new generation of clean-diesel vehicles have near-zero emissions, they also use 2 to 5 percent less fuel, a feature

highly valued by owners and operators.

New clean-diesel technology for construction and farm equipment has been phased in over the past three years, and on Jan. 1, 2014, will extend to the very largest engines. As for existing engines, they met all the EPA standards of their day, and are still important assets to small and large businesses alike.

California and other states are learning that the older the engines, the less they are used. Options are available to modernize and upgrade some engines and, as always, more funding is needed. Oregonians recognize the fuel efficiency and low-emissions benefits of diesel technology for transportation. In 2012, Oregon was tied for first place nationally with the highest percentage of clean-diesel vehicles of all its registered cars and SUVs. Oregon also ranks eighth nationwide in total diesel cars, pickup trucks and SUVs registered.

Allen Schaeffer

Diesel Technology Forum

Frederick, Md.