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Boston marathon memorials won't be ready for this year's race

Permanent memorials to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings are taking shape in a foundry outside Boston. But the long-awaited monuments of bronze, granite and glass won't be ready in time for this year's race on April 15.

'It's better done right than fast,' says the aunt of one of the victims

Race fans hold a 'Boston Strong' flag cheer for competitors near the finish line of the first anniversary of the bombing at the 2014 Boston Marathon. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

Permanent memorials to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings are taking shape in a foundry outside Boston. But the long-awaited monuments of bronze, granite and glass won't be ready in time for this year's race on April 15.

The $2 million US project, which has been substantially redesigned since planning began four years ago, should be finished by this summer, according to city officials.

It had originally been hoped that the bombing site memorials would be finished in time for last year's five year anniversary of the attack, which killed three people and injured about 260 others at the finish line of the storied race.

But during a tour of his workspace in Chelsea on Tuesday, artist Pablo Eduardo said he doesn't feel pressure to meet an artificial deadline.

A blowtorch is used on a bronze ring with inscription as work continues on a permanent memorial to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

The pressure comes instead from a desire to meet the hopes and expectations of the families of the three victims of the attack, who requested the design changes after selecting the Bolivian-born sculptor for the monument, he said.

"Having an event like this that is life-changing for many people, all we can offer is our craftsmanship and making sure everything is done to the best we can do," the artist explained as other workers polished and etched portions of the structure.                                                                      

It's a very personal, sensitive project.- Helen Zhao, relative of bombing victim

Helen Zhao, an aunt of bombing victim Lingzi Lu who now runs a nonprofit foundation created in honour of her niece, said she doesn't have an issue with Eduardo taking his time. She recently toured the workshop and was pleased with what she saw.

"I think it's better done right than fast," Zhao, of Cranston, Rhode Island, said Tuesday. "It's a very personal, sensitive project. The artist and the city have been very patient. You can tell how much they want to get this right, and we really appreciate that."

The memorials will be placed at the two locations where pressure cooker bombs detonated.

A single granite pillar adorned with bronze will mark the location where 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford, died. An inscription etched in a bronze ring at the base of the pillar will bear a quotation picked by her family: "All we have lost is brightly lost."

Lighting designer Dan Weissman turns on a tower light which will be part of the permanent memorial. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

About 180 metres away, two more pillars about four to six feet tall will symbolize the two other victims: 8-year-old Boston resident Martin Richard and 23-year-old Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu. Their inscription reads: "Let us climb, now, the road to hope."

Eduardo said each pillar comes from a place special to the victims. Richard's stone was brought from Boston's Franklin Park, while Lu's was donated by BU and Campbell's comes from Spectacle Island, the picturesque Boston Harbour island where she'd worked.

Artist Pablo Eduardo, left, speaks about granite pillars that are part of his work. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

Each site will also be ringed by towering columns of bronze and glass. Eduardo said the sinewy, twisting bronze framework is meant to evoke protection and strength while the frosted glass, which will be illuminated from inside, symbolizes the fragility of life.

He hopes the monuments provide a "quiet, contemplative place" along otherwise bustling Boylston Street. Cherry trees have been planted at the sites and two bronze markers within the red brick sidewalk will honour the two police officers who died after the attacks while pursuing the suspects: MIT Officer Sean Collier and Boston Police Officer Dennis Simmonds.

"I like the simplicity of it," said Zhao of the monument. "It's solemn and it's also something that's going to last."

A bronze ring with inscription will be part of the monuments of bronze, granite and lighted glass. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

The project is part of the city's broader effort to memorialize the attack.

Boston officials also envision a larger monument that will involve input from attack survivors, but that project remains in its infancy. No budget, timeline or location has been laid out at this point, said Donny Taveras, the city's chief diversity officer, who is overseeing the memorial efforts.

Bombing monuments have also been built elsewhere in greater Boston.

In Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology unveiled in 2015 a massive, star-shaped granite memorial at the site where Collier was slain as authorities pursued bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In nearby Medford, the city opened a peace garden dedicated to Campbell, a city resident, in 2016.

And a more than $15 million US esplanade playground and park with sweeping waterfront views is being built in South Boston near the city's Children's Museum in honour of Richard. That project, which is almost entirely privately funded, broke ground two years ago and remains under construction.

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