It took years to get the funding.
It took months to design and make it.
It took only a few minutes to install the first panels of the new, controversial fence on the All-America, or Y-Bridge, in Akron this week.
One worker used a forklift to hoist an 8-foot-wide fence panel over to the posts that already had been installed on the bridge parapets. Three other workers lined up the 200-pound panel and took turns holding it in place and using wrenches to fasten the bolts.
The workers from Future Fence of Warren, Mich., repeated this process until five panels stood in the middle of the southbound span of the Y-Bridge.
''It would take somebody real good to get up there,'' said Dale Muckenhirn, Future Fence's foreman on the bridge renovation project that includes adding a fence to try to prevent people from jumping.
''Like me,'' said Chris Maczko with G. Stephens Inc., Akron's project manager on the project.
Maczko jumped up on the bridge parapet and tried to climb the fence.
''It's hard,'' he said, shaking his hands after jumping back down. ''Hard on the fingers.''
Future Fence installed the panels Tuesday to give city officials an opportunity to see what the fence will look like on the bridge and to identify any concerns.
The response was mostly positive, with one exception: The space between the fence and parapet wall that could give potential jumpers a toehold. The gap between the five fence panels and the wall is about an inch and a half, which is a half-inch larger than the mock-ups city officials previously approved.
''We need to resolve what it is and what it should be before we move too much further,'' city engineer Mike Teodecki said during a status meeting Wednesday afternoon on the project.
Rick Russell, Future Fence's vice president of operations, said he plans to talk to his foreman about dropping the fence down to cut the space to about an inch.
''Our goal is to reduce that gap as much as possible,'' he said.
Two of the city's highest ranking officials — Mayor Don Plusquellic and Council President Marco Sommerville — won't be able to see the fence panels until they return this weekend from an economic development trip to China.
Public Service Director Rick Merolla, who drove past the fence Tuesday, said it ''looks exactly like we thought.''
''It's hard to visualize what the end product will look like, with only four panels installed on such a large stretch of pavement,'' he said.
Seen from afar — driving on either the northbound side of the bridge or on Howard Street — the fence looks quite small. Up close, the fence appears much larger, standing at 10 feet, including the parapet wall.
The fence is by far the most controversial part of the $6.2 million, stimulus-funded project to improve the Y-Bridge that also involves replacing major parts and resurfacing the decking. Some people think installing a fence is a waste of money; others call it a long-overdue addition because of the 32 people who have jumped to their deaths off the bridge since 1997.
''Thank goodness,'' Carolyn Conley said Wednesday after hearing the first fence panels had been installed. ''Someone just went over.''
She was referring to a man who jumped off the bridge in late September.
Conley and her husband, Bob, whose 20-year-old son, Kevin, killed himself by jumping off the bridge in 1996, have been two of the fence's biggest proponents. The couple has been keeping track of the project's progress, including visiting the bridge Wednesday to see the panels.
The remaining fence panels — about 4,000 of them — won't be installed until the spring, as work soon will shut down because of winter. Both spans of the bridge will reopen to traffic when work stops, which is expected to be the week of Thanksgiving.
The contractors working on the project will continue over the winter fabricating pieces for the bridge, including the new fence panels, and delivering them to Akron.
''As soon as the weather breaks, we'll be ready to go into full production,'' Russell said.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.