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New pedestrian bridge over West Burnside opened with a party Sunday morning that included a tribal blessing

PMG FILE PHOTO - The now-completed Barbara Walker Crossing ensures a safe crossing of West Burnside Street for walkers, hikers and runners on the Wildwood Trail.A street party with all-you-can-eat pancakes commemorated the grand opening of the Barbara Walker Crossing early Sunday, Oct. 27.

The party was scheduled to last until 11:30 a.m.

The Barbara Walker Crossing is a brand new bridge over West Burnside that connects Forest Park and Washington Park through the Wildwood Trail — bridging the gap between safety and adventure.

The party began at 8:30 a.m. with a parade to the bridge from Northwest 24th Place and Burnside. The event had food, music, a tribal blessing, and a performance by local dance troupe Bodyvox.

There were also free commemorative t-shirts to the first 300 who cross through the new bridge's gates.

Construction on the Barbara Walker Crossing was completed by Oct. 13. It ensures a safe crossing of West Burnside Street for walkers, hikers and runners on the Wildwood Trail.

The trail is 30 miles long and connects pedestrians to destinations like the Hoyt Arboretum, Washington Park and the Pittock Mansion, making them more accessible.

The long-anticipated crossing cost $4 million and took four years to complete. The nonprofit Portland Parks Foundation spearheaded the project and the fundraising. More than 60% of the total cost was paid for by private donors with government entities, including the parks bureau, footing the rest of the bill.

Designed by Ed Carpenter, the Barbara Walker Crossing is a study in the marriage of art and practicality, with forms along the side of the bridge mirroring the shape of native sword ferns.

It's an elegant piece of architecture to be sure — but safety was the main priority.

Before now, pedestrians had to dash across a curvy West Burnside (one of Portland's busiest roads with an estimated 20,000 daily drivers) to continue on the forest path.

"It's been an accident waiting to happen and we're really lucky that nobody's ever been killed here," said Carpenter.

"It's a gateway to the city," said Randy Gragg with the Portland Parks Foundation. "It will be the first thing you see as you come into the city."

The bridge is named for one of Portland's leading green space activists. Barbara Walker successfully fought against a big development in her Southwest Portland neighborhood, then helped drive the creation of public spaces including Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Springwater Corridor.

Walker died crossing Burnside in 2014 at the age of 79.

"That vision for a connected park system was hers and this is a critical connection within that system," said Gragg.

From today on, the Barbara Walker Crossing will offer safe passage for all who tread the shaded path through the country's largest urban forest.

"To be able to live in a city — a thriving metropolis — at the same time that we have access to solitude and to nature uninterrupted like this is an incredible gift," Carpenter said.

And now the tranquility that awaits along the Wildwood Trail is complete.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their story with video here.


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