Barbara Walker Crossing for the Wildwood Trail
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 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 rusting 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
• 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.
Ed Carpenter Studio
1812 NW 24th Avenue
Portland, Oregon USA 97210
Tel: 503 224 6729
Fax: 503 241 3142