Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

Coordinates: 42°22′08″N 71°03′48″W / 42.36889°N 71.06333°W / 42.36889; -71.06333
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Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
The bridge, seen in 2011
Coordinates42°22′08″N 71°03′48″W / 42.36889°N 71.06333°W / 42.36889; -71.06333
Carries10 lanes of I-93 / US 1
CrossesCharles River, MBTA Orange Line
LocaleBoston, Massachusetts
(North EndCharlestown)
Official nameLeonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
OwnerCommonwealth of Massachusetts
Maintained byMassachusetts Department of Transportation
DesignHybrid Steel and Concrete Cable-stayed bridge[1]
Total length1,432 ft (436 m)
Width183 ft (56 m)
Height270 ft (82 m)[1]
Longest span745 ft (227 m)
Clearance below40 ft (12 m)
Construction cost$105 million
OpenedMarch 30, 2003 (northbound)
December 20, 2003 (southbound)

The Leonard P. Zakim (/ˈzkəm/) Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge (also known as the “The Zakim”) is a cable-stayed bridge completed in 2003 across the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a replacement for the Charlestown High Bridge, an older truss bridge constructed in the 1950s.

The bridge and connecting tunnel were built as part of the Big Dig, the largest highway construction project in the United States. The bridge's unique styling quickly became an icon for Boston, often featured in the backdrop of national news channels, to establish location, and included on tourist souvenirs. The bridge is commonly referred to as the "Zakim Bridge" or "Bunker Hill Bridge" by residents of nearby Charlestown.

The Leverett Circle Connector Bridge was constructed in conjunction with the Zakim Bridge, allowing some traffic to bypass it.


The bridge concept was designed by Swiss civil engineer Christian Menn in collaboration with bridge designer Miguel Rosales and its design was engineered by American civil engineer Ruchu Hsu with Parsons Brinckerhoff.[2][3][4] Wallace Floyd Associates, sub-consultants to Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, was the lead architect/urban designer and facilitated community participation during the design process.[5][6]

The bridge is a cable-stayed bridge in a harp configuration with cradles carrying each strand through their pylon. The main portion of the Zakim Bridge carries four lanes each way (northbound and southbound) of Interstate 93 (concurrent with U.S. Route 1) between the Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. Tunnel and the elevated highway to the north. Two additional lanes are cantilevered outside the cables, which carry northbound traffic from the Sumner Tunnel and North End on-ramp. These lanes merge with the main highway north of the bridge. I-93 heads toward New Hampshire as the "Northern Expressway", and US 1 splits from the Interstate and travels northeast toward Massachusetts' North Shore communities, crossing the Mystic River via the Tobin Bridge.

The 1975-built MBTA Orange Line's Haymarket North Extension tunnel lies beneath the bridge.


The bridge's full name commemorates Boston area leader and civil rights activist Leonard P. Zakim, who championed "building bridges between peoples",[7] and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The bridge was dedicated on October 4, 2002, in a ceremony held on the new span. The dedication speakers included members of Zakim's family, government officials, and a performance of the song "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen.[8]

Introducing the song, Springsteen said about Zakim, "... I knew him a little bit during the last year of his life, he was one of those people whose, intensity, inner spirit you could feel even when he was very ill, ... we honor his memory obviously not with this beautiful bridge, very lovely, but by continuing on in his fight for social justice."[9]

Landscape design and public art[edit]

Under Zakim Bridge, Five Beacons for the Lost Half Mile, blue phase
Five Beacons for the Lost Half Mile, orange phase, view to West

Placement of footings for the Zakim Bridge required environmental permits to relocate areas of open water surface, changing the contour of the Charles River shoreline. The process of landscape design and environmental mitigation under the bridge deck and around the bridge supports allowed for the creation of a new and accessible public landscape designed by Carol R. Johnson Associates. This under bridge landscape contains a series of perforated stainless steel lighting-based public artworks, entitled, Five Beacons for the Lost Half Mile.

Pedestrians and cyclists are able to travel from Charlestown toward Cambridge over the adjacent North Bank Bridge to North Point Park.[10] This bridge is a link in the Charles River Bike Path and a segment of the Mass Central Rail Trail and the East Coast Greenway.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Massachusetts Department of Transportation. "MassDOT — The Big Dig — Tunnels and Bridges — The Cable-stayed Bridge". Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  2. ^ "Miguel Rosales: Building a better bridge – Beacon Hill Times". beaconhilltimes.com. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "CultureNOW - Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge: Miguel Rosales, HNTB, Christian Menn, Theodore Zoli, Richard Hsu and Parsons Brinckerhoff". culturenow.org. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  4. ^ Sullivan, James. "For Lawrence students, Zakim Bridge project leads to acclaim, personal tour by span's architect - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Thomas P. Hughes, Rescuing Prometheus, New York, Pantheon, 1998
  6. ^ Wiley Online Library June 19, 2013, Megaproject Management" Lessons in Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig, pp. 415–418
  7. ^ MTA press release (September 18, 2002). "Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge Dedication Events Set For October 3–6". Archived from the original on February 10, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2008. "He worked tirelessly to build personal bridges between our city's diverse people and neighborhoods." - Joyce Zakim, wife of Lenny Zakim
  8. ^ "Bruce Springsteen performs at the Leonar (sic) P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge Dedication".
  9. ^ "Brucebase transcription". Archived from the original on December 28, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "Twists & Turns Geometric constraints posed a major challenge for designers of a new footbridge" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 18, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2012.

External links[edit]