EAST LANSING — Michigan State University will replace temporary barriers along the Red Cedar River with steel fencing in response to the drowning death of Brendan Santo last fall. 

MSU officials began installing temporary fencing along a portion of the river where it runs through campus near the intersection of Beal Street and West Circle Drive after the body the 18-year-old Grand Valley State University student was recovered from the river on Jan. 21.

Santo had been visiting friends at MSU and went missing on Oct. 29, 2021.

Santo’s family and close friends started a petition calling for MSU to install barriers, lighting and signage along the river to prevent further tragedies. The petition has garnered more than 22,800 signatures. 

Work to replace the temporary fencing with permanent fencing begins July 5 and will be complete by the end of August, said Dan Olsen, MSU spokesperson. The fencing will be about 4 feet high and run 2,300 feet along the river. 

“The installation of the new fencing delivers on the commitment we made earlier this year to improve the safety around parts of the river,” Olsen said, in a statement. 

The fencing project is estimated at $645,000, he said.

The fencing runs along a portion of the river with steep banks that run down to the water. 

Posters were placed across the MSU campus while volunteers searched for Brendan Santo in 2021.

MSU is also addressing additional demands in the petition by improving lighting across campus, and the school has added more than 300 security cameras, including in every residence hall and throughout campus, Olsen said. 

More: MSU altering safety measures around Red Cedar River after petition takes off

The SafeMSU app, which was first proposed by Michigan State University Police Department, launched in December and is now available for download. It’s another recent addition to MSU’s “security portfolio,” Olsen said. It includes such features as a virtual friend walk, which allows students who are walking alone at night to share their location with a friend.

New fencing seen along Beal Street near Michigan Avenue in East Lansing, seen Friday, July 1, 2022.

The security and safety changes come after Santo’s disappearance left authorities, family and volunteers searching for months. 

Santo, of Rochester Hills, visited MSU to see friends during the weekend of the MSU-University of Michigan football game. He was last seen leaving Yakeley Hall on foot before midnight Oct. 29.

Ryan Robison, a private investigator, discovered his body and alerted police of his location.