The 16th Street Mall, with its busy sidewalk cafes and FREE Mall Ride, opened in 1982. It’s considered one of the most successful pedestrian malls in the country. But it’s showing its age. Many of the mall’s granite pavers—especially in the bus lanes—are cracked and chipped, and their once-bright colors have faded. The BID and the Downtown Denver Partnership have been working to renovate and maintain the mall by collaborating with various partners.
Costs to upgrade 16 blocks (from Broadway to Wynkoop Street) of the 30 year-old Mall infrastructure, based on the recommendations of the 16th Street Mall Technical Assessment and Rehabilitation Study (2009) and the 16th Street Urban Design Plan (2010), have been estimated at $65 million.
The most pressing infrastructure issue facing the Mall is the deterioration of the paving system in the transit lanes. Two pilot infrastructure upgrade projects – reconfiguring the intersection at 16th Street and Larimer, and reconstructing portions of the transit lane between Court and Tremont, were completed in 2011.
In 2012 the Regional Transportation District (RTD) applied to the Federal Transit Administration for a $16.1 million grant ($12.9 million in federal funds matched by $2.3 million in local funds) from the FTA and was granted $10.0 million ($8.0 million in federal funds matched by $2.0 million in local funds, split between RTD, the City and County of Denver and DDP/BID) in July 2012. This funding will pay for upgrades consistent with the two plans mentioned above on up to 3½ blocks of the Mall – two blocks between Market and Lawrence and 1.5 blocks between Court and Broadway (the “project area”). These blocks were chosen because they have experienced the most serious deterioration in quality of the transit lane paving.
Detailed design for the project area is scheduled to commence in late spring 2013, with completion of design at the end of 2013. Construction is scheduled for the spring and summer of 2014.
RTD will be ceasing bus operations at Market Street Station when the underground bus facility at Denver Union Station opens in 2014, and as part of that shift, will reconfigure the 16th Street Mall adjacent to Market Street Station, between Blake Street and Market Street, consistent with the recommendations of the 16th Street Urban Design Plan. In 2013, RTD is funding design services for the reconfiguration, and reconstruction is scheduled to occur in mid- to late-2014, with a budget of up to $1 million.