Six New Footbridges Built in the Greater Portland Area Since 2014
Also Coming Soon to the ePub Version of The Big & Awesome Bridges of Portland & Vancouver
Grant Street Pier
An Example of Suspended Animation
Vancouver, WA Waterfront
The Grant Street Pier has been described as the “Wow!” factor in the largest infill project in Vancouver, Washington’s history. The unique art-meets-engineering pier has become the not-to-be-missed destination spot on Vancouver’s 5-mile-long Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail. It’s also the go-to experience for residents of Portland and Vancouver, as well as for visitors from all over the world. There is nothing else like the Grant Street Pier along the 1,243-mile-long Columbia, or anywhere else for that matter — the river about a half-mile wide at this point and fewer than 100 miles from its confluence with the Pacific Ocean in Astoria, OR. For more about the Grant Street Pier’s complex engineering challenges and history, visit https://www.martinmartin.com/project/grant-street-pier/. For more about Vancouver’s transformation, visit https://thewaterfrontvancouverusa.com/retail/grant-street-pier/. And for more about designer Larry Kirkland, visit https://larrykirkland.com/.
Opened: September 29, 2019.
Location: In Vancouver, WA on the north bank of the Columbia River between the Interstate Bridge (upstream) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Bridge 9.6 (downstream), the jewel in a 3,800-square foot concrete and stone public plaza located in 7.3-acre Vancouver Waterfront Park.
Purpose: Centerpiece of a billion-dollar reclamation effort to revitalize the City of Vancouver’s waterfront and to provide public access to the Columbia River in this location for the first time in more than a century.
Notable Features: Functions like one-half of a cable-stayed bridge. Because Grant Street Pier enables the passage of ideas, connects people, opens up opportunities, reduces isolation, and increases one’s range of options, it meets the full definition of a bridge in a metaphoric nutshell. It was not an easy structure to design and build – no piers were allowed in the water that would prevent free fish migration — challenging the designer, structural and foundation engineers, and contractors to come up with this enlightened solution.
Owned and maintained by: The City of Vancouver, WA.
Cost: $14 million
Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle & Pedestrian Bridge
Originally known as Sullivan’s Crossing
Prior to the Blumenauer Bridge, travel was inconvenient and hazardous for bicyclists and pedestrians crossing over Interstate 84 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in this busy section of Portland. The Blumenauer Bridge is also scheduled to become part of Portland’s Greenway Loop. For more about the Loop, visit https://www.portland.gov/bps/green-loop/about. After a major earthquake, the Blumenauer Bridge may be the only bridge still standing of the many overpasses spanning I-84 in this area. For more about this bridge, visit https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/construction/congressman-earl-blumenauer-bicycle-and-pedestrian-bridge.
Opened: September 2021 (date to be announced).
Location: Near Downtown Portland across Interstate 84 and Union Pacific Railroad tracks at NE 7th Ave. between the Lloyd District (north end) and the Kerns Neighborhood and the Central Eastside (south end), about seven blocks east of the Willamette River.
Purpose: To provide a safer and more direct connection for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross over I-84 and the railroad tracks located here.
Notable Features: The two ends of this tied arch bridge do not match, what engineers call an “asymmetrical tied arch.” The full arch portion of the Blumenauer Bridge extends over railroad tracks and freeway, with a half arch at the Lloyd Center (north) end of the bridge. The half arch is similar to the design seen at both ends of the Fremont Bridge. However, unlike the Fremont, there is no half arch at the Blumenauer Bridge’s opposite (south) end where it connects with the Kerns Neighborhood. According to Craig Totten, principal at KPFF Consulting Engineers, “the geometry was driven by the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s right-of-way and the clearance requirements over I-84 and the railroad tracks.” The Blumenauer Bridge design is so unusual it could be the only bridge of its type in the US.
Owned and maintained by: Portland Bureau of Transportation.
Cost: $18.7 million (includes public plazas and landings)
The MAX Orange Line light rail line connects Portland City Center with Milwaukie/Oak Grove. It is a 30-minute ride between Pioneer Courthouse Square in the heart of Downtown Portland and the end of the line in Milwaukie at the SE Park Ave Station. The Gideon Overcrossing, built for pedestrians and bicyclist use only, is located near the Clinton Street/SE 12th Ave Station. This is the second stop on the east side of the Willamette River. For a fun outing, ride MAX to the Gideon Overcrossing, get off, and walk across it from end to end, returning to ground level at the bridge’s west end to catch the next train. (It is 15 minutes between trains on the Orange Line.) Notice the almost five-foot difference in clearance between the bottom of the Gideon Overcrossing and the rails used by the MAX trains and, to the east of them, the rails of the Union Pacific Railroad, almost five feet higher. The Gideon Overcrossing completes the City of Portland’s vision of the “Clinton to the River” Greenway project. For more information visit https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/68514. For more about the Gideon Overcrossing itself, visit https://trimet.org/bettertransit/gideonovercrossing.htm.
Opened: November 16, 2020.
Location: The bridge is 300 feet from TriMet’s Orange Line Clinton Street/SE 12th Avenue MAX Station and 14 blocks east of the Willamette River.
Notable Features: Made of weathering steel, the Gideon Overcrossing design includes elevators at both ends large enough to fit mobility devices. The cyclist-friendly stairs feature state-of-the-art bike gutters at both ends as well. The bridge provides a safer and more convenient north-south connection for people walking, biking, or using a mobility device to cross over the MAX Orange Line and Union Pacific Railroad tracks between the Hosford-Abernethy and Brooklyn neighborhoods. It also restores the original overcrossing near here that was razed due to construction of the MAX Orange Line tracks that began in 2011, as well as being the final piece constructed on the 7.3-mile-long MAX Orange Line.
Owned by: TriMet.
Cost: $8.8 million
Rhine-Lafayette Street Pedestrian Bridge
Also known as the Rhine-Lafayette Pedestrian Overpass
The Rhine-Lafayette Street Pedestrian Bridge, a “cousin” to the Gideon Bridge, is also a pedestrian and bicycle-only footbridge. It replaces a worn-out 1943 bridge, making it easier and safer to get across the two main line tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad and the lead track into the northern end of UPRR’s 110-acre Brooklyn Yard. For a fun outing, ride MAX to the Clinton/SE 12th Ave Station, near the Gideon Overcrossing, walk across the Gideon Overcrossing, then reboard the next train and get off at the next stop, which is SE 17th Ave/Rhine St Station. From the station walk east on Rhine Street one block to visit the Rhine-Lafayette Street Bridge. Don’t forget to walk across both bridges, enjoying the elevator ride and stairs found on both ends. For more about this bridge, visit
Opened: September 3, 2015
Location: Over the MAX and Union Pacific Railroad tracks near TriMet’s SE 17th Ave/Rhine St MAX Station, about 13 blocks east of the Willamette River
Notable Features: Like the Gideon Overcrossing, the Rhine-Lafayette Bridge’s design includes a roomy, roll-in glass elevator at each end large enough to fit mobility devices, also cyclist-friendly eight-foot wide access stairs featuring state-of-the-art wheel tracks. There is even a pay phone.
Don’t miss the public art on display. Portland-based artist Anne Storrs' 20-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture stands near the elevator doors at the bridge’s west side. The tree-shaped work (titled “Along These Lines”) was inspired by the branching pattern of train tracks seen from the bridge’s main span. Former Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen’s poem “Numen” was laser cut and etched in stainless steel at the sculpture’s base. At the east end, look for the in-sidewalk medallion with text ring, also designed by Storrs, etched with the poetry of Monica Arnone—a student at Cleveland High School at the time of commissioning. To learn more about Anne Storrs, go to https://annestorrs.com/galleries.php/along-these-lines. To learn more about Paulann Petersen, go to http://www.paulann.net/index.php.
Owned by: TriMet.
Cost: $3.9 million
The Barbara Walker Crossing
Originally known as the Wildwood Trail Bridge
Architectural artist Ed Carpenter shepherded the Barbara Walker Crossing from need to actuality. Portland-based Carpenter met with dozens of neighborhood groups, government officials, and local non-profits championing the bridge and showing his design, developed in collaboration with KPFF Structural Engineers. With each meeting, dedication grew for making his vision for this unique crossing a reality. Eventually, after a Carpenter presentation to their board, Portland Parks Foundation took on a crucial leadership role in fundraising and coordination with City agencies. Almost a thousand individuals and foundations contributed funds, in addition to the City of Portland and Metro. Because of the numbers involved in its six-year-planning, funding, and construction, the Barbara Walker Crossing is considered to be one of the most collaborative infrastructure team efforts in Portland history. Other important partners were Portland Parks, Shiels, Obletz & Johnsen (project managers) and R&H Construction. For a list of individual private donors and to learn more about the project visit https://www.portlandpf.org/footbridge-over-burnside. To learn more about Ed Carpenter, visit https://www.edcarpenter.net/portfolio/wildwood-trail-bridge.
Opened: October 27, 2019.
Location: On the Wildwood Trail between Forest Park and Washington Park over West Burnside Street, about two miles from Downtown Portland on the west side of the Willamette River.
Purpose: Walkers and joggers along the 30-mile Wildwood Trail no longer have to worry about dodging roadway traffic on busy West Burnside Street, three lanes wide at this point.
Notable Features: As reported in one magazine article, the bridge’s unusual curving walkway and striking visual elements repeated along its length were designed to evoke the imagery of sword ferns and vine maples seen along the Wildwood Trail. The bridge’s 19 tons of weathering steel “mimics leaves, branches, and trunks.”
Owned and maintained by: Portland Parks and Recreation.
Cost: $4.05 million
Flanders Crossing Bridge
With the opening of the 4.25-mile-long I-405 freeway in 1969, the neighborhoods left standing on either side of the high-speed freeway needed a safer connection for pedestrians and bicyclists. It took more than a half-century to build a solution, the Flanders Crossing. As an alternative route to Interstate 5 through Portland, I-405 is one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. In 2007, the City of Portland identified NW Flanders Street as an alternate seismic-resilient route for emergency vehicles following an earthquake. The Flanders Crossing Bridge may be the only bridge still standing among the 29 overpasses spanning I-405 between the Fremont and Marquam bridges after a large earthquake. See “Count the Bridges Field Trip,” p. 151 in The Big & Awesome Bridges of Portland & Vancouver, A Book for Young Readers and Their Teachers.
Opened: April 2021 (date to be announced).
Location: Near Downtown Portland over Interstate 405 at Northwest Flanders Street between Northwest 15th and 16th avenues; connects the Pearl District (east) and Northwest District (west) neighborhoods about 15 blocks west of the Willamette River
Purpose: To provide a safe crossing over I-405 between two busy and often congested Portland neighborhoods.
Notable Features: Truss bridges were the go-to type for bridge building in America during the late 19th century and much of the 20th century. The Flanders Crossing Bridge mirrors that tradition and is distinct for its clean lines and tessellation (repeating patterns). Some say the bridge is an example of structural art. The paint colors for the railing and protective fencing were chosen by the Pearl and Northwest District neighborhood associations. Two twelve-wheel trailers and two cranes were used to roll and swing the 355,000-pound (177.5-ton) steel truss into place over I-405 on January 23, 2021.
Owned and maintained by: Portland Bureau of Transportation.
Cost: $9.5 million