Current Weather Conditions
John A. Weeks III
Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:18:58 PM CDT
Home Photo Tours Rail Fan 12 Easy Steps
Aviation Spacecraft Highways & Bridges About The Author

Google Search Maps
Groups
Images
Search
  Home
  • 12 Easy Steps
  • Aviation
  • Spacecraft
  • Highways & Bridges
    » Bridge Photography
      - MSP River Bridges
      - C & D Canal
      - Illinois River
      - Minnehaha Creek
      - Minnesota River
      - Mississippi River
      - Missouri River
      - St. Croix River
      - St. Louis River
      - Wisconsin River
      - Best Miss River Photos
      - Cable Stayed Bridges
        › Arthur Ravenel Jr Br
        › Bill Emerson Mem Br
        › Clark Bridge
        › Cochrane-Africatown
        › Dames Point Bridge
        › Ed Hendler Bridge
        › Frank Gatski Mem Br
        › Fred Hartman Bridge
        › Glass City Skyway
        › Greenville Bridge
        › Hale Boggs Mem Br
        › John J Audubon Br
        › O'Connell Bridge
        › Penobscot Narrows Br
        › Quincy Bayview Br
        › Sen C Bond Bridge
        › Sen Wm V. Roth Jr. Br
        › Sunshine Skyway Br
        › Sidney Lanier Bridge
        › Talmadge Memorial Br
        › The Great River Bridge
        › US Grant Bridge
        › Varina-Enon Bridge
        › Veterans Memorial Br
        › Weirton-Steubenville Br
        › Wm H. Natcher Bridge
        › Wm H. Harsha Bridge
        › Zakim/Bunker Hill Br
          — — — — — — — —
        › Alex Fraser Bridge
        › Centennial Bridge
        › Coatzacoalcos II Bridge
        › La Plata River Bridge
        › Vancouver Skybridge
          — — — — — — — —
        › Indian River Inlet
        › Pomeroy-Mason Bridge
        › Ronald Reagan Mem
          — — — — — — — —
        › Charles W. Dean Br
        › Ironton-Russell Br
        › Ohio R Br (Downtown)
        › Ohio R Br (East End)
          — — — — — — — —
        › 6th Street Viaduct (N)
        › 6th Street Viaduct (S)
        › 21th Street Bridge
        › Arthur DiTommaso Br
        › Badger Road Bridge
        › Beach Road Bridge
        › East Fork Bridge
        › Lake Underhill Br
        › Lane Avenue Bridge
          — — — — — — — —
        › Bluff Dale Bridge
          — — — — — — — —
        › Bob Kerrey Ped Br
        › Big Rock Creek Br
        › Cross Seminole Trail
        › First Avenue Skyway
        › Hennepin Co Med Ctr
        › Keeper Of The Plains
        › Martin Olav Sabo Br
        › Mortensen Plaza
        › MSP Airport Skyway
        › Reiman Bridge
        › Rhythm City Sky Br
        › Sundial Bridge
        › US-41/45 Ped Bridge
      - McGilvray Road Bridges
      - I-35W Bridge Disaster
      - Miscellaneous Bridges
      - Madison County Bridges
    » Road Geek Topics
  • Photo Tours
  • Rail Fan
  • About The Author
 
Site Search By JRank
Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
I-93/US-1 Charles River Crossing At Boston
Boston, Massachusetts

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

  • Bridge: Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
  • Structure ID: NBI B166009PMMHSNBI
  • City: Boston
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Country: USA
  • Carries: I-93/US-1
  • Crosses: Charles River
  • Date Opened: March 30, 2003
  • Total Length: 1,432 Feet
  • Longest Span: 745 Feet
  • Tower Height: 295 Feet (South Tower), 323 Feet (North Tower)
  • Deck Width: 183 Feet
  • Number Of Lanes: 10
  • Number Of Spans: 1
  • Height Above Water: 40 Feet
  • Traffic Count: 206,260 (2008)
 
The rise of the automobile culture after World War II left Boston with a huge traffic problem. Its centuries old layout and awkward geography left traffic choked in a tanlge of narrow and crooked streets that threatened to leave the city behind as the world rocketed towards the space age. The savior for the city was envisioned to be the Interstate Highway project, with its local centerpiece, the I-93 Central Artery, an elevated double-deck steel freeway through the heart of the city.

Unfortunately, the Central Artery turned out to be a mistake. First, it was ugly. Locals began to refer to it as the ‘Big Green Monster’, a referece to the large outfield wall in Fenway Park. Second, it split the city in two and walled off the historic waterfront. Third, due to poor design, it did not solve the traffic problem. For example, it mixed north and south traffic with east and west traffic. It forced some traffic back onto city streets, which would back up on to the freeway. It had too many ramps, too few merging lanes, and had an accident rate four times the national average. Finally, the freeway revolt that lead to the cancellation of the Inner Belt freeway meant that half of the downtown freeway system was never built. By 1980, congestion was a major problem 6 hours per day, and it was expected to reach 16 hours per day by 2010.

The solution to the I-93 problem was the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, known as the ‘Big Dig’. This would replace the elevated I-93 structure with a tunnel, add a new east-west tunnel to the airport, and knit the city back together with a linear greenspace on the site of the old elevated freeway. The north end of the project would include a large bridge over the Charles River. While most of the Big Dig would be underground and be invisible from the street, the new Charles River bridge would be very visible, so it was decided that it would be a signature structure for the city of Boston. That increased the cost of the bridge by about $30-million, but that is short money in the context of a $20-billion project.

The Zakim Bridge connects the central core of Boston to the Charlestown neighborhood. The Charles River is navigable, so a long clear span was desirable. This is an ideal application for a cable stayed bridge. The final design was for a 745 foot main span, plus a 267 foot long suspended span on the Boston end of the bridge and a 420 foot long suspended span on the Charlestown end of the bridge. The bridge deck would consist of 8 traffic lanes, four northbound and four southbound, plus two northbound auxiliary lanes cantalivered off of the east side of the bridge. The resulting bridge deck is the widest of any existing cable stayed bridge (when this was written in 2011) at 183 feet wide. The bridge deck has 40 feet of clearance for navigation traffic.

The tower design called for two inverted-Y towers, with the south tower being 295 feet tall and the north tower at 323 feet. A pair of H-towers might have been less complex, but it would have been too much of a reminder of supports for I-93 elevated structure that it was replacing. Using Y-towers allowed for an innovative cable configuration. The approach spans are supported by the stay cables in the center of the bridge deck, while the main span is supported from the outside edges of the bridge deck. Cables are attached to the legs of the towers as well as the vertical section, resulting in two different V-shapes as cables vee towards the center of the bridge outside of the towers, and vee towards the towers over the main bridge span.

Traffic first started using the Zakim Bridge on March 30, 2003 when the four northbound lanes were opened. The southbound lanes opened on December 20, 2003, and the cantilevered northbound lanes opened in April, 2005. There is no pedestrian or bicycle access to the structure, but there are excellent nearby alternatives. The bridge featured an excellent decorative lighting effect for several years. The lights were turned off on April 9, 2009, as a cost savings effort during the economic crunch that followed a housing market collapse.

The bridge was referred to as the Charles River Bridge when it was initially proposed in the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. It was later intended to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill, which occured less than one-third of a mile northeast of the bridge site. In fact, the bridge towers were designed to look like the nearby Bunker Hill Memorial. The governor of Massachusetts proprosed the name ‘Freedom Bridge’, which later morphed into ‘Bunker Hill Freedom Bridge’. About that time, popular local community organizer and civil rights advocate Lenorad Paul Zakim passed away at the young age of 46 after a battle with cancer. Many in the Boston area lobbied to have the bridge named after Zakim. Eventually, a compromise was reached, and both Zakim and the Battle of Bunker Hill were honored with the name ‘Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge’. In my visit to Boston, I only heard the bridge referred to as the ‘Zakim Bridge’.

The merits and outcome of the Big Dig project will be debated for decades, and it is beyond the scope of my short overview of the Zakim Bridge. There are no doubts that it was financially mismanaged and construction oversight was seriously lacking at times. However, one does not have to spend much time in Boston before realizing that removing the Big Green Monster has lead to a rennaissance in the livability of the city.

The photo above is looking south towards the Zakim Bridge and downtown Boston from a pedestrian overpass over New Ruthferford Avenue that leads to the Community College T-Station. This is the best unobstructed view of the structure that I was able to find. There is also a good view from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, but unfortunately, it was closed for rennovation when I visited in the spring of 2011. The photo below is a closer view from a slightly different location on this pedestrian overpass.


Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views of Portal Park, located at the north end of the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The greenway is open park space that is built were the old I-93 structure once cut through the heart of Boston. Portal Park is on the north end of the Big Dig Tunnel where the highway emerges from under the city to cross the Charles River. The photo above is looking east across the park towards the North End district of Boston. The photo below shows the guard rail over the tunnel entrance.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views of the Zakim Bridge looking north down the center of the bridge deck from Portal Park. The TD Garden arena casts a large shadow across the highway, and the afternoon sun is on the far side of the bridge, leaving the towers in a shadow. The photo above shows the guardrail on top of the tunnel portal, while the photo below is looking through the guardrail. The person on the right is Kevin Cody, a friend who lives in the Boston area who scouted out the vantage points for this series of photos. The person on the left was filming stock footage to be used on the NBC TV series ‘America’s Got Talent.’

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are looking north along the west face of the Zakim Bridge. The photo above was taken from the west edge of the Big Dig tunnel portal where Interstate highway I-93 descends underground. The photo below was taken from the sidewalk running along the east side of the TD Garden arena. We were not able to walk any futher down this sidewalk due to higher levels of security for a Boston Bruins playoff game that was being played that evening.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
The photo above is looking east towards the Zakim Bridge from a parking lot located adjacent to North Station, a major transportation hub for Boston. The photo below is a view of the south bridge tower as seen from the end of platform #1/#2, which serves MBTA Commuter Rail.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are looking east towards the south bridge tower from the parking lot at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The photo above is a view of the cable fan, while the photo below is a closer view of the cable anchors on the bridge tower.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are looking east towards the north bridge tower from the Nashua Street Park, located on the south bank of the Charles River. The photo above is a view of the cable fan, while the photo below is a close view of the cables anchors on the bridge tower.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views of the Zakim Bridge as seen from North Point Park on the north bank of the Charles River. The yellow truss bascule located in front of the north bridge tower carries commuter rail trails out of North Station and across the Charles River. The concrete highway bridge located between the rail bridge and the Zakim Bridge carries exit ramps from Interstate highway I-93 to state highway 3.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are additional views from North Point Park. The photo above is a closer view of the north bridge tower, while the photo below is a closer view of the south bridge tower, which is partially obscured by the Spaulding Rehabilitiation Hospital.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos are additional views of the Zakim Bridge from North Point Park. They were taken from a waterfront trail that will evenaully pass under the Zakim Bridge and connect to Paul Revere Park on the east side of the structure.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
The photo above is a view of the north bridge tower from the end of the trail along the edge of the commuter rail line coming out of North Station. A project is underway to build a bridge to extend this trail across the rail line, across a small barge channel, and under the Zakim Bridge to connect to Paul Revere Park. The photo below is a view of the south bridge tower as seen from a small hill in North Point Park. This location provides a clear view of the south bridge tower without it being obscured by the hospital.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
The photo above is the north bridge tower as seen from ground level at the Bunker Hill Memorial. This view is overlooking the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, with the Back Bay area of Boston located on the far side of the bridge. The tall skyscraper is the 60-story Handcock Place building, known locally as the John Hancock Tower. This building is famous for problem with glass falling off of the tower and for swaying so much that people get motion sickness on the upper floors. The photo below is looking northwest along the east face of the Zakim Bridge, looking into the evening sun, from the State Patrol parking lot near the south bridge tower.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
The photo below is looking southwest towards the south bridge tower from Paul Revere Park. The TD Garden sports arena is located on the far side of the bridge. The photo below is the TD Garden, located near the south bridge abutment, home to the Boston Bruins NHL Hockey team, Boston Celtics NBA Basketball team, and the Boston Blazers NLL Lacrosse team.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
The photo above is looking southwest towards the main bridge span, as seen from Paul Revere Park. The photo below is looking northest under the main bridge span from the Charles River Locks, a lock and dam system and hydroelectric power plant on the Charles River. Sunlight reflecting off of the river helps to illuminate the underside of the bridge, revealing some of the structural details.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
The photo above is looking northwest towards the north bridge tower from the Charles River Locks. The photo is underexposed to make visible some of the details under the bridge deck. The locks are interesting in their own right, with a walkway that allows one ot cross the three ship locks and pass over the intakes to the hydro plan. The photo below is another view of the south bridge tower looking into the late evening setting sun.

  Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

The photo above is looking northwest towards the north bridge tower from Paul Revere Park. The debris in the foreground is left over from the former I-93 metal bridge that spanned the Charles River prior to the Big Dig project. This area is being cleared to develop it into a park, with a pedestrian bridge connecting to North Point Park. The photo below is a close view of the cable attachments to the south bridge tower.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos, and the six that follow, show a typical crossing of the Zakim Bridge heading northbound. In the photo above, we are exiting the Interstate highway I-90 Ted Williams Tunnel and entering the I-93 Central Artery tunnel. In the photo below, we are nearing the north tunnel portal, where we will emerge on the Zakim Bridge.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our northbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we have just exited the Central Artery tunnel and have entered the south end of the Zakim Bridge. In the photo below, we are approaching the south bridge tower. The cable configuration is readily visible in this photo. Cables on the outsides of the tower connect to the center of the bridge deck, while cables located between the towers connect to the sides of the bridge deck. This is the only major cable stayed bridge that has this style cable configuration.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our northbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are approaching the middle of the main bridge span. In the photo below, we are approaching the north bridge tower. Note that some of the cables that attach to the center of the roadway form an inverted V. That is due to these cables attaching to the legs of the tower rather than the main vertical section of the tower. This is also a very unusual cable configuration.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
These two photos conclude our northbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are nearing the end of the suspended span at the north end of the Zakim Bridge. In the photo below, we are continuing northbound on the Interstate highway I-93 elevated structure, heading into Sommerville after having passed between Charlestown and Cambridge.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

Made With Macintosh
Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2014, all rights reserved.
For further information, contact: john@johnweeks.com