Runner Wants to Build a ‘Boston Strong’ Memorial Bridge

The president of the New England chapter of USA Track and Field would like it to go up over a section of I-90.

Photo via Tom Derderian

Photo via Tom Derderian

Tom Derderian wants to build a memorial in the city that can be seen from afar, but  that will also connect the community and pay homage to the victims of the Boston Marathon attack.

To do that, he has proposed that a pedestrian and running bridge be built across a busy strip of highway, engraved with a tribute to those impacted by the blasts. “I want something over the [Massachusetts Turnpike], which is a gateway to Boston,” said Derderian, a famed Boston Marathon historian, and president of the New England association of USA Track & Field. “It’s a fusion of a few notions, including that there is already a lousy pedestrian bridge in that spot, which I have run over many times.”

He first proposed the idea for a pedestrian memorial bridge over the highway back in May during a meeting with board members from the organization, just a month after the attack. After receiving positive feedback from others, he decided to continue to push the idea forward, and recently reached out to officials from Mayor Tom Menino’s office.

Derderian said he has been corresponding with people in the Parks Department, but wants to bring the concept to multiple department heads in order to craft a version of his proposal that everyone could agree on, while finding out how feasible such a project would be. He even had a sketch made of what he envisioned the bridge could look like. “The image is a rendering that I asked someone to do, just so we had something for people to look at. It’s a concept sketch and not an architectural design,” he said.

In the latest issue of New England Runner, Derderian wrote that the bridge would symbolize bringing people together, and could be used to wrote the names of the victims on it, much like the names of soldiers who served in combat, and were honored at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. “The emotional part is to remember the Boston Marathon victims under the ‘Boston Strong’ notion,” he said. “What could be better, symbolically, than something that links the community together? It’s a good thing for transportation, as well as public health.”

The idea of a bridge comes at a time when Menino is trying to form a task force to conceptualize an appropriate memorial for those affected by the Marathon attack on Boylston Street. The makeshift memorial that accumulated thousands of trinkets, letters, articles of clothing, and other items, which was situated in Copley Square, was recently removed, and city officials placed the objects in the city archives.

“Runners training for the marathon would pass over it and the buses carrying runners to the marathon start would pass under it. The Boston Strong Bridge would symbolize strength and defiance and, of course, enhance Boston as a pedestrian city friendly to bikers and runners,” Derderian said.

  • Stephen Peckiconis

    You refer to an article in “New England Runner” but you link to an article in Runner’s World. They are two different magazines, although both devoted to running.

    “In the latest issue of New England Runner,”

    Tom’s latest column in New England Runner is available here:

    • Steve Annear

      Thanks! So originally, I couldnt find the link to his article, but Runner’s World had the quotes from the column, so I sourced them instead. -Steve Annear

      • Stephen Peckiconis

        You are welcome. Thanks for the coverage. Looks like its already generating more good ideas.

        • Steve Annear

          I have since used your link. Appreciate it.

  • Cynic

    It’s a wonderful proposal, but I’d make one small change. Derderian’s proposal shows this structure on the site of the current, decaying pedestrian overpass between Linden and Lincoln Streets. It’d make vastly more sense to move it slightly west to Everett Street, to connect to the new Boston Landing MBTA Station. That would give runners (and, presumably, bikers) a safer and more attractive way to access the newest addition to our mass transit infrastructure.

    And, as a symbol, it’d be more powerful if it were more directly tied to New Balance’s massive Boston Landing development, which features both the corporate headquarters of a firm singularly devoting to running, and, more importantly, a world-class track and field facility. The existing Everett Street bridge is extremely perilous for bikers and pedestrians; upgrading or improving its safety has already been eyed for years as part of Harvard’s Allston development.

    The best memorial won’t simply be a symbol eyed by thousands of drivers speeding beneath it – it’d be a useful, functional addition to our local infrastructure embraced every day by thousands of people passing over it. That’s much more likely to happen with a bridge tying a commuter rail station and a massive running-related development to the communities on the other side of the highway than with a bridge simply replacing a dilapidated and under-utilized crossing that leads from one street to another.