The city of Fort Wayne will hold an official lighting ceremony and unity walk at 9 p.m. Monday evening across the newly finished Martin Luther King Jr. bridge.
Speaking at the ceremony will be King's nephew, Derek King Sr., who is a professor of religious studies at Martin University.
Mayor Tom Henry led Fort Wayne media members on a tour of the bridge Friday morning, proudly pointing out its many unique features, from the cutout inscriptions in the railings to the 704 light fixtures, seating and 25 plaques with quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A few of the many materials it took to construct the bridge: 10,000 bolts, 14,655 feet of wire, 3,000 feet of fiber-optic cable, 2,507 cubic yards of concrete, 440,000 pounds of reinforcing steel and 379,000 pounds of structural steel. It took 16 pieces of steel to form the 50-foot arch.
Planning for the bridge began in 2006 and construction started in the summer of 2010, wrapping up this past week with the final light installations.
“I cannot think of a better bridge then this,” Henry said after the tour.
Henry said the lighting is spectacular, with millions of different shades of color, making it a wonderful gateway to Fort Wayne's downtown. The bridge, explained Henry, is just one step toward improving and developing the rivers in downtown Fort Wayne. Henry said the city will be considering other gateways into Fort Wayne for aesthetic improvements but couldn't say if there were any specific plans in the works. Henry did say the Monday evening ceremony will be a very special event.
Along with Derek King Sr., there will be music by the Voices of Unity Choir. A display case from the Karpeles Manuscript Library, featuring the last page of the “We Shall Overcome” speech, with handwritten notes from Dr. King, will be placed near the center of the bridge for viewing.