Burnside footbridge to become a reality

The footbridge has been in demand by concerned community members

Pedestrians try to cross Burnside where a bridge where a footbridge will be built. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — In only 11 days of crowd funding, the Portland Parks Foundation surpassed their $150,000 goal toward construction of a sorely needed pedestrian footbridge connecting Forest Park’s Wildwood Trail.

Starting the campaign on Sept. 20, it reached its goal on Sept. 30.

The footbridge would connect the Wildwood Trail in Northwest Portland’s Forest Park so pedestrians no longer have to cross the street, Oct. 11, 2017. (Courtesy photo: Portland Parks Foundation)

The footbridge has been in demand by concerned community members going back at least 20 years when the crossing of the trail with West Burnside Street in Northwest Portland was identified as problematic in a 1996 study by the Portland Bureau of Transportation Engineering and Development. While an estimated 80,000 people cross at that spot and approximately 18,000 cars zoom by annually, creating a dangerous situation for both drivers and those on the trail.

There have been problems with fender benders from cars attempting to halt quickly for pedestrians, while those on foot are at risk of being slammed by a car.

Although the goal for crowd funding has been met, the campaign continues through Oct. 23.

“The reason we want to stretch is that we know construction costs are going up,” says Portland Parks Foundation Executive Director Jeff Anderson. “And even though we’ve allowed for some inflation of costs, we don’t want to be caught short either on the construction side or the maintenance side.”

The bridge is planned to have a 75 to 100-year lifespan.

Although the goal publicly for the entire bridge has been $2.5 million, with $500,000 contributed by the city of Portland and other funds from Metro, Portland Parks Foundation is hoping to hit closer to $2.7 million. With the crowd funding, they’re at about $2.4 million, while an anonymous donor plans to match crowd funding efforts up to $175,000.

Officials are looking at the bridge as an art piece as much as an answer to a public safety issue. It’s planned to be designed by regional artist Ed Carpenter.

“One of the features of our Footbridge that we also like to note is that it will be tantamount to a public art installation — not just a mundane crossing, but a graceful steel sculpture that would not be possible to create if built solely by the city without private support,” said Anderson.

They’re working on hammering out an operational grant agreement with the city likely by Nov. 1 and its expected there will be a hearing at City Council where people will have the opportunity to give testimony.

The bridge planned to be named after Barbara Walker, a longtime parks volunteer advocate.

After everything for the project is formalized this month, Portland Parks Foundation will accelerate construction, finalizing contracts. Construction will start in early 2018 and take six to nine months, with expected completion by next fall. Portland Parks & Recreation will ultimately maintain the bridge.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN media partner