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Barbara Walker Crossing for the Wildwood Trail

Ed Carpenter’s radio interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting can be found here.   OPB television’s ArtBeat 8-minute segment on the bridge design/fabrication/erection process can be viewed here.  For a video stroll across the bridge follow this link.

Portland’s Wildwood Trail winds 30 miles through contiguous forested parks along the western edge of the city, rarely crossing roads. For many years, the busiest road crossing was at West Burnside, a major city arterial, where runners and walkers were forced to negotiate three lanes of heavy traffic with short sight lines.

At the request of a local citizens group in 2011, Ed Carpenter developed the bridge design represented here to blend seamlessly with the experience of the trail. Carpenter was himself a 40-year trail runner and “survivor of the crossing at West Burnside.”  And he had already designed a number of unusually expressive bridges in addition to his monumental sculpture commissions around the world.

Carpenter spent two years in a mostly solo effort studying different schemes, collaborating with KPFF Consulting Engineers, and meeting with more than twenty neighborhood groups, non-profits, City Commissioners, City bureaus, and then-Mayor Charlie Hales, promoting the project, before convincing Portland Parks Foundation to take on the role of prime sponsor.

The bridge is 178’ long measured at the center of its curving deck. Its basic structure is a tri-chord truss of weathering and painted steel.

Carpenter’s design evokes imagery of the sword ferns and vine maples lining the entire length of the Wildwood Trail. In addition it strives to honor the following design objectives:
• Seamless experience for walkers/runners
• Fit into forest context
• Minimally intrusive
• Transparent/delicate
• Iconic/original
• Reasonable cost
• Off-site fabrication & quick erection
• Easy to maintain

Now known as the Barbara Walker Crossing, this eventually became a project of the Portland Parks Foundation in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), and Metro.


Barbara Walker Crossing

Wildwood Trail/West Burnside

Client: Portland Parks Foundation/City of Portland, OR

Date: October, 2019

Dimensions: 180' x 12' x 12'

Materials: Welded, painted CorTen steel structure, fiberglass deck grating, stone paving at north landing.

Descriptors: Bridge, artistic bridge, art bridge, pedestrian bridge, public art, art in landscape, landscape art, infrastructure art, artistic infrastructure, site responsive art, artist initiated project, artist led design team.


Ed Carpenter Studio
1812 NW 24th Avenue
Portland, Oregon USA 97210

Tel: 503 224 6729
Fax: 503 241 3142