Plan lets tourists climb Fremont Bridge arch

A proposal to let people walk outside of the Fremont Bridge

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hovering about 400 feet above the ground, KGW’s drone captures gorgeous views of downtown Portland. It’s the kind of view that Ryan Purdy wants people to take in from the top of the Fremont Bridge, that stands 381 feet above the Willamette River.

On Wednesday, he officially launched the website for his project, the "Portland Bridge Climb."

“The idea for the Portland Bridge Climb is to put a contraption or an attachment to the bridge and allow people to walk to the very top of it,” said Purdy.

His inspiration came a couple of years ago when he and his brothers did the bridge climb in Sydney, Australia.

“When we did that it was just the most amazing tourist experience,” Purdy said.

When he came back to Portland, he said he saw the Fremont Bridge and noticed similarities to the bridge in Sydney.

“[I] said why don't we have anything like that here in Portland? So I started the Portland Bridge Climb,” he said.

For the last two years he has been working on the project in his free time. But a few months ago, he made the decision to quit his strategic planning job to work on his dream, full time.

“It’s a big career shift. But I think it’s worth the risk,” he said.

Portlanders we spoke with seemed to like the idea, so long as it’s safe.

“It’d be a guided tour up there and everybody would be attached up there, so super safe,” said Purdy.

Purdy said his idea already has widespread community support.

But details need to be ironed out. It's still unclear how much it would cost, or how it would be paid for. 

Don Hamilton with the Oregon Department of Transportation said no formal proposal has been received. The plan would likely have to get state and federal approval in order to move forward.

Hamilton said ODOT workers currently have a cramped climb to the top of the bridge, inside the narrow arches. There are no steps and no walkway on the exterior of the bridge. He said building a walkway would mean a significant amount of changes to the bridge’s infrastructure. At this point, no structural analysis has been completed.

Hamilton said there are also other considerations, such as safety and how the addition of a walkway to one of Portland’s most iconic bridges may change its profile.

Purdy said his next step is to talk to an engineer about how to make his dream a reality. His goal is to have a crowdfunding website up and running by March. 

He said those who support his idea can find out ways they can help on his website, or contact city officials to voice support that way.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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