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Fruitvale Bridge Site of Alamedan’s Suicide

An Alameda man decided to end his life on the Miller-Sweeney Bridge early Thursday morning by hanging himself from a section of the span railing, according to country transit courses.

A bridge tender (or mechanic) found the 50-year-old man’s body right before 7 a.m. on April 7.

Authorities say the individual had tied a rope to the railing in the middle of the bridge and then placed the other end of rope, tied in a noose, around his neck before jumping off the structure.

Traffic was backed up yesterday from about 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., peak commuting time.

On Tuesday, traffic on Alameda’s three bridges was delayed due to a brief power outage between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m.

In other estuary news, there is talk — but no official word yet — on the houseboat fire that took place in Fortman Marina on March 30. Some observers have speculated that it was caused by the spontaneous combustion of some paint, rags or other materials being used for an improvement project on the vessel.

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When one bridge closes …

It won’t be much longer before the High Street Bridge reopens — the schedule calls for it to be fully operational in early September. Until then, this is what the Fruitvale Bridge looks like around quittin’ time. Imagine what could happen if more than one bridge closes. This time it’s for repair work, but next time it could be because of the economy, with the county uable to fund the around-the-clock bridge tenders. It nearly happened recently, but city officials say the proposal could go back to the table as long as the state keeps dipping into local governments’ funds to pay its deficit.

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Broken bridge piles benefit fishies

Part of the ambiance of living in the Bay Area is homey sight of people dropping a line in the water in hopes of catching dinner. For some time now, that sight has been missing from the Fruitvale Bridge fishing platforms, both on the Alameda and Oakland sides. For months, the gate has been locked. Damage to the pilings after a tugboat incident prompted the county to send fishermen and fisherwomen and fisherkids elsewhere, said Ruben Briones in County Superintendent Alice Lai Bitker’s office.  Unfortunately, the county hasn’t been able to drum up the fix-it funds yet. The same is true for the planned seismic work on the Fruitvale Bridge. A contractor has been awarded the job, but so far, the buck has stopped at that point. Add to that the potential partial closure of the Fruitvale, Park Street and High Street bridges if the county, which maintains and operates those draw bridges, loses its gas tax revenues to the state. These are not good days for our bridges.

The fishing platforms on the Fruitvale Bridge have been closed for months.

The fishing platforms on the Fruitvale Bridge have been closed for months.

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This Saturday: Planting daffodils near the Fruitvale Bridge

If you’d like to join a group of Alamedans and Oaklanders planting daffodils on the Oakland side of the Fruitvale Bridge (because, as you likely know, that’s one heck of an untended area) they’ll be a group out there working this coming Saturday, November 15, from 9 a.m. to noon. They’ll be meeting between 880 and the Fruitvale Bridge, near East 7th Street. I’m sure they’ll be easy to spot. Participants are advised to bring garden gloves and tools if they have them, wear work clothes, and be ready to plant. The event is sponsored by the Fruitvale Bike Station, the City of Oakland and Keep Oakland Beautiful.

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Guerrilla gardening: pathways to Alameda

For those of you who ever happen to come on or off the Island by way of the Fruitvale Bridge, perhaps driving or walking or cycling from the BART station, you know that the particular stretch of road is one of the most homely anywhere: chain link fences, wind blown trash, run-down buildings, weeds in concrete. A few days back, my trusty research assistant noted a man on a bike watering a lone plant on the median strip right near the bridge on the Oakland side. And I myself have noted these petunias, set against a backdrop of concrete, being tended on the east side of Fruitvale Avenue, between the train tracks and the 880 underpass. Guerrilla gardening, the cultivation of neglected public spaces by energetic individuals, is not a new concept, but it’s nice to see a little sprig of color where none had been before. Is anyone aware of any on-Island guerilla gardens?