Saturday, 2:15 PM
Zakim Bridge architect pays to keep the lights on
(Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
The Zakim Bridge with the lights out last week.
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
To many Bostonians, the words "Zakim Bridge" evoke the regal skirt of blue adorning the triangular swoop of the majestic span at night. So when the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority decided last week to douse the lights to save $5,000 a month, it crushed a lot of spirits, not least those of Miguel Rosales, the architect who designed the bridge.
After driving along Interstate 93 and gazing mournfully at his creation, darkened for the first time since it opened to great fanfare in 2002, he decided to do something about it. Today, Rosales mailed a check for $15,000 to the authority -- enough to light the bridge for three months -- and urged the agency to, please, pretty please, let the lights shine again, for the sake of the city.
"It just brings to life the whole structure at night," Rosales said today, adding that while he sympathized with the Turnpike Authority's financial plight, "Turning the lights off, I don’t think it really gives the right message. I think it makes it an even more depressing situation."
Turnpike officials were surprised by, and grateful for, Rosales's donation, a decidedly rare gesture of charity towards an agency that has been criticized as bloated and wasteful.
“My initial reaction is thank you,” said Alan LeBovidge, the executive director of the authority. “And assuming he’s an upstanding guy, and assuming there's no legal impediment not to take it, I’d say we need $45,000 more.”
Still, LeBovidge said he was not sure if he would use the gift to turn the lights back on for three months. “I don’t want to turn them on and turn them off and turn them on and turn them off,” LeBovidge said. “If we’re going to do something like that, I’d like to have a sustainable solution.”
Rosales said he hopes his gift will inspire more private donations for the Zakim lights. "I feel maybe if I do a small gesture, I will give an impetus to other people to keep the lights on,” he said. "It was always my idea to have lighting on the bridge, and we always wanted the gateway effect of the tower to be highlighted by lighting."