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Beyond The Big Dig
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What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery may be the most important development decision to face Boston in a generation.

Zakim Bridge walk set for dedication

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff, 9/19/2002

Responding to the public's apparently bottomless interest in the Big Dig and the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, the state announced yesterday it will stage a series of public events next month that will culminate with a five-hour bridge walk and ribbon-cutting.

The walk will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6. The walk will be the second to take place on the bridge this year, and the third on the Big Dig. So far, some 800,000 people have shown up for the walks - about 200,000 to the bridge event on Mother's Day, and 600,000 to a tunnel walk Aug. 25.

"This will be the last major public event and walk across the bridge. We will be opening soon after that," said Big Dig spokesman Sean O'Neill. "Due to the success of the Mother's Day event and the tunnel walk, we are hoping to climax and end all public events before opening up, so people should really take advantage of this."

The bridge is scheduled to open to traffic Dec. 10, but Big Dig officials said delays of up to six weeks are possible.

Several events will lead up to the walk as the state prepares to open major portions of the $14.6 billion Central Artery. The dedication weekend will begin Oct. 4 at 8 a.m. with a "Youth Congress" and march in Charlestown, where roughly 1,000 high school students will learn about Zakim's crusade against racial and ethnic hatred, and about the Battle of Bunker Hill.

At 9 a.m., a one-hour non denominational prayer service will take place at St. Francis de Sales Church, at 313 Bunker Hill St. in Charlestown. The service will include music by a fife and drum corps and a candle-lighting ceremony.

At 12:15 p.m., several local, state, and national politicians, including US Senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, will officially dedicate the bridge. A 250-member choir specially assembled for the event, the Children's Bridge Festival Chorus, will perform. Big Dig officials said they hope to line up a brief performance by rock star Bruce Springsteen, who was a friend of Zakim's and will be playing at the FleetCenter that night.

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