Dr. Derek King, Sr., Voices of Unity, Unity Walk Highlight Event

Fort Wayne, Ind. – On Monday, nearly 49 years to the day in 1963 that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed a standing-room only crowd in Fort Wayne, Mayor Tom Henry will host the First Lighting Ceremony and Unity Walk across the new bridge named in his honor.

During the media tour and briefing on the bridge's unique features, Mayor Henry announced that Dr. King's nephew, Dr. Derek King, Sr., will join in the historic dedication. He also reissued the invitation to the entire community to participate in this commemorative event. The inaugural festivities will begin at 9 p.m. on June 4. Those attending are asked to gather initially near the Headwaters Park pavilion.

"Concrete, steel, lights – a bridge. But the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge is so much more than a bridge to span a river," said Mayor Henry. "It is a symbol that is drawing our community together once again and re-energizing our spirit," said Mayor Henry. "It is a statement of unity that reaffirms our ongoing commitment to making Fort Wayne a more vibrant and welcoming community – a place of pride and opportunity for all."

On June 5, 1963, Dr. King visited Fort Wayne and spoke before a crowd of more than 2,000 at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. He talked about his nonviolent strategies to end racial discrimination in the South and improve conditions for African Americans in the United States. The next day, The Journal Gazette reported that "several hundred...had to be turned away for lack of room."

At the invitation of Mayor Henry, Dr. King's nephew, Dr. Derek King Sr. will share his thoughts and insights during the event. Derek King is the son of the Reverend A.D. King, the only brother of Dr. King. He is a professor of religious studies at Martin University.

Distinctive features of the signature structure include sculptural etchings and 25 plaques with quotes from Dr. King; wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and seating midway across the bridge; two sets of stairs connecting to the Rivergreenway below; and state-of-the-art lighting that displays millions of shades of color. www.cityoffortwayne.org/MLKBridge

"Not only is this spectacular bridge an enduring remembrance and fitting tribute to Dr. King, it is also an inspiring gateway into the vibrant heart of our city," added Mayor Henry. "It offers a magnificent view of downtown Fort Wayne, and of greater importance, sends the message that we are a community ready to compete and built for success."

Other celebration highlights include, the World Champion, "Voices of Unity" choir, performing during the Unity Walk and the lighting of the bridge, and a display case from Fort Wayne's Karpeles Manuscript Museum featuring the last page of the "We Shall Overcome" speech, with handwritten notes from Dr. King. To mark the occasion, a photographer will be available to take free keepsake photos of event-goers, sponsored by Visit Fort Wayne.

Beyond the ceremony, the bridge represents significant local economic impact. The total community investment including design, engineering and construction of the bridge is over $8.8 million. Those dollars funded nearly 300 construction jobs and comprise an economic boost that ripples throughout the community and often creates additional jobs and reinvestments throughout the region.

Investment Breakdown - $8.8 million:

• $3.64 coming from federal funding

• $3.2 million from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

• $2 million coming from the City of Fort Wayne.

• Project created approximately 300 construction jobs

Bridge Timeline:

• The planning and conceptual ideas began in 2006

• Engineering began in October 2007

• Design work completed in December 2009

• Construction began in the summer of 2010

• Construction completed in the spring of 2012

Bridge Facts:

• 25,500 vehicles drive across the bridge each day

• The bridge replaces the deteriorated bridge built in 1967

• The new bridge reduces the six piers (bridge supports) in the water to two

• Two piers allow for better flow and eliminate log jams

Bridge Contractors, Designers:

• DLZ – Architecture/Engineering

• R.L. McCoy, Inc.

• Bercot-Gibson Construction Co.

• Brooks Construction Co., Inc.

• C-Tech Corporation

• InfraSource, Inc.

• Maple Metal Fabrication

• Premium Concrete Services, Inc.

• Slussers Green Thumb, Inc.

• Wabash Steel, LLC

• Three Rivers Barricade

• Almet, Inc.

• Martin, Inc.

• Erie Haven

• Modjeski & Masters Inc.

Bridge by the numbers:

• 12,563 feet of conduit

• 14,655 feet of wire

• 3,000 feet of fiber optic cable

• 2,507 cubic yards of concrete

• 440,000 pounds of reinforcing steel

• 379,000 pounds of structural steel

• 16 pieces of steel formed the 50-foot arch

• 8,500 piles or 1.8 miles

• 704 light fixtures

• 10,000 bolts

• 803 feet of railing

Mayor Tom Henry and the City of Fort Wayne wish to thank Monday's sponsors including, Markey's Audio Visual, DLZ, Republic Services, Visit Fort Wayne and A Party Apart.