PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The construction for the new pedestrian bridge over West Burnside will start on Monday — temporarily closing parts of the Wildwood Trail.
The Barbara Walker Crossing is expected to be done by September.
As construction gets underway, the Wildwood Trail will be closed south of Burnside for about 1,000 feet within Hoyt Arboretum and north of Burnside to Pittock Mansion. The trail closures will be in place for the duration of the construction.
Once the footbridge is finished, it will allow 80,000 hikers and runners who use the Wildwood Trail each year to safely cross Burnside. The crossing is at a dangerous curve on a road used by 20,000 drivers every day.
Concerned community members have demanded the bridge for at least 20 years. The crossing was identified as problematic in a 1996 study by the Portland Bureau of Transportation Engineering and Development.
Many hikers have said crossing the busy road to continue on the trail feels like a real-life game of “Frogger.” Pedestrians have to contend with both traffic speeding down the hill and around the corner as well as traffic coming up quickly from below.
Some hikers visiting from New York told KOIN 6 News the crossing was “nerve-wracking,” especially because the busy road cuts through such a quiet forest.
“That was definitely a shocking surprise because it was so peaceful and then suddenly you have all this to worry about,” said hiker Harry Moses.
The bridge will also create a direct and safe connection between two of the Wildwood Trail’s most popular destinations: Hoyt Arboretum and Pittock Mansion.
Clay Kelleher hikes the trails at Forest Park. He told KOIN 6 News he was happy something is being done to make the Burnside crossing safer.
“I’d like to see this thing go smoothly and for people that like to walk in Portland to continue to enjoy walking,” Kelleher said.
The Portland Parks Foundation is leading the project — working with Portland Parks & Recreation, PBOT and Metro.
The foundation started a capital campaign for the footbridge that raised two-thirds of the bridge’s $3.2 million cost.
“Donors included individual community members making contributions ranging from $20 to $50,000, as well as area philanthropic foundations,” Randy Gragg, executive director of Portland Parks Foundation, said. “Every single donor has the foundation’s thanks for making the project a reality. It simply would not have happened without the community’s commitment and generosity.”
The rest of the money came from the City of Portland and Metro.
The footbridge is named for the late Barbara Walker. The Portland Parks Foundation said she was one of the “most ardent champions of trails and connecting parks and open spaces.”