Although Ed Carpenter’s monumental, graceful art enhances public spaces around the world, he remains rooted in his local community. In this spirit, Ed designed the Barbara Walker Crossing, a soaring pedestrian bridge spanning West Burnside to connect the two sides of the Wildwood Trail.

The bridge appears as a natural extension of the trail itself, blending seamlessly into its surroundings as it curves into the forest over one of Portland‘s major thoroughfares. The ease and grace of its form, however, offers no hint of the long, complex process to bring this project to fruition.

The new Barbara Walker Crossing on the Wildwood Trail on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The bridge was designed by artist Ed Carpenter in partnership with the city of Portland.

The new Barbara Walker Crossing on the Wildwood Trail on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Portland, Ore. The bridge was designed by artist Ed Carpenter in partnership with the city of Portland.

Todd Sonflieth/OPB

Plans for the bridge began back in 2012. Carpenter worked with multiple collaborators, including the City of Portland, Portland Parks Foundation, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Metro, contractors, fabricators, structural engineers, architects and a variety of community members and organizations.

Many people worked pro bono on this effort, and more than 900 individuals and organizations donated funds for the bridge. A handful of years and more than 100 meetings later, Carpenter feels deeply satisfied in seeing this particular public art design become a reality.  

“This project was unique for me because I initiated, promoted, and recruited partners for it,” Carpenter said, “whereas I’m usually responding to a (project) initiated by a public agency.”  

The bridge is named for Barbara Walker, a longtime advocate of Portland‘s natural spaces and of the Wildwood Trail in particular. Walker passed away in 2014.

Public art enriches community spaces. This bridge does double duty. It not only echoes the beauty of the iconic Wildwood Trail, but it simultaneously addresses the long-standing issue of a tremendously hazardous intersection.

Family friendly and accessible year-round, the Barbara Walker Crossing is located on West Burnside, waiting to make your Wildwood Trail hike seamless.