March 22, 2024 - Mayor Tom Henry joined the Fraternal Order of Alpha Phi Alpha, the MLK Jr. Club, Creative Sign Resources and Public Works Division leaders today to unveil two new plaques installed on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge, facing southbound traffic. The $117,000 investment further enhances this stunning gateway that serves approximately 27,000 vehicles per day, sending a welcoming message to all.

The bronze, double-sided 3D image plaques are replacing the original cast aluminum plaques which were installed in 2012 and were showing signs of atmospheric corrosion and pitting, resulting from exposure to natural elements and air pollutants.

Creative Sign Resources, a local business, was commissioned to replace the original plaques. The project began with defining key parameters, including enhancing the likeness of Dr. King, selecting materials with superior resilience to environmental factors, and ensuring compatibility with existing sizes and mounting hardware. Reference images for the new plaques were sourced from Stephen F. Somerstein’s “Selma to Montgomery Alabama March,” and Reg Lancaster’s “Luther King,” licensed through Getty Images. The Fraternal Order of Alpha Phi Alpha worked with the City’s Public Works Division to choose the photos.

Collaborating with Matthews Architectural Products, a renowned Pittsburgh-based company specializing in cast metal plaques and memorials, Creative Sign Resources provided technical drawings of the original plaque assembly along with the licensed images. Skilled artisans at Matthews Architectural Products meticulously hand-sculpted clay bas relief sculptures measuring 4 feet wide by 6 feet high, which served as molds for the metal casting process. Molten bronze, selected for its durability against the elements, was poured into these molds. The casting underwent finishing touches, including a dark infill to enhance contrast and a protective clear coat to slow down natural weathering.

“We continue to be honored to have a bridge in recognition of Dr. King in our community. The new plaques send a strong message of our commitment to ensure Dr. King’s legacy is remembered and that we think of him often,” said Mayor Henry.