Shared-Use Greenway for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park

On this day 51 years ago, Robert F. Kennedy stood before an Indianapolis, IN gathering and said, “I have some very sad news for all of you … Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.” Kennedy’s brief speech upon the civil rights leader’s death is remembered as one our nation’s great public addresses. The location of Kennedy’s speech is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park—and today, a GAI-designed shared-use greenway is helping make that park more accessible to the community it serves.

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Robert F. Kennedy Announces Martin Luther King Jr.’s Assassination

The new shared-use greenway is located where, just a few hours after Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot, Robert F. Kennedy dispensed with the politics of the 1968 Democratic presidential primary and delivered an earnest appeal for calm and mutual understanding before a primarily African American audience. His brief, largely impromptu speech is widely credited for sparing Indianapolis the rioting that ravaged many other U.S. cities in the wake of King’s assassination. Just two months later, Kennedy would himself be killed by an assassin’s bullet.

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Improved access to a storied spot

“The new greenway runs along the southwest edge of the park, within sight of the Landmark for Peace Memorial just 60 yards to the east,” said Jay Vorisek, PE, GAI Transportation Technical Leader. The Landmark for Peace Memorial immortalizes both King and Kennedy, two great Americans connected in both accomplishment and tragedy during a turbulent time in US history.

“The project improves on an old pedestrian mall that was unsuited to safe usage by both pedestrians and cyclists, and wasn’t friendly to people with disabilities,” said Vorisek. “The shared-use greenway we designed meets full ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, and is sectioned to safely accommodate both walkers and bikers.”

Designed for the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works, the project includes constructing a 10-foot-wide pedestrian walkway with bumpouts for benches and trash receptacles alongside a 10-foot-wide path for non-motorized vehicles. “The two parallel paths are separated by a 5-foot-wide landscaped median planted with trees that meet City of Indianapolis flora guidelines,” said Vorisek.

Shared-use greenway expands city-wide cycling options  

The new greenway builds on a larger initiative to improve alternative transportation options in Indianapolis. “The city is seeking to enhance its streets for non-motorized vehicle use,” said Vorisek. “They have conducted studies on ways to help or encourage people to use bicycles instead of cars, and the new mixed-use greenway we’ve designed for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park will be a part of the 16th Street Corridor cycling route that provides connectivity among several neighborhoods, the large IU-Methodist Hospital campus, and the popular Monon Trail.”

Helping build a better Indianapolis

“It’s definitely fulfilling to be involved in a project that enhances an area of such historical significance,” said Vorisek. “And looking forward, the new shared-use greenway—and the improved access and amenities that go along with it—supports the ongoing redevelopment we’ve been seeing in Indianapolis over the last decade or so; the near northside and surrounding areas have been getting a lot of attention in recent years, and it’s satisfying to help add to that positive momentum.”

Contact GAI Transportation Technical Leader Jay Vorisek, 317.436.4846, for more information about GAI’s infrastructure services, projects, and trends.


Jay Vorisek, PE is a recognized transportation design leader in Indiana. His engineering and project management experience includes preparing environmental studies, traffic safety and capacity analysis, all facets of roadway design, and development of construction plans and specifications.

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