By Jesse Sarles

(CBS4) – Denver city and business leaders on Thursday celebrated the symbolic groundbreaking of the new 16th Street Mall improvement project. It was only symbolic because the construction for the huge project has actually already started near Market Street and Larimer Street.

(credit: CBS)

The 16th Street Mall is one of Denver’s most visited areas, and one of the goals of the project is to improve mobility and safety for pedestrians. In order to do that, the paths of the free shuttle buses will change. The transit lanes will be pushed more directly into the center of the mall to make more room for walkers.

The construction will only cover portions of the mall at a time and the mall ride will detoured for several blocks at each stage as it gets worked on. Crews will be replacing granite pavers for better drainage, improving lighting and making other improvements.

(credit: CBS)

The work will move continuously up the mall and no business will ever be blocked from entry for the duration.

At Thursday’s news conference, representative from RTD said the mall ride is one of their most popular services and carries about 3.6 million passengers a year. They said they’re looking forward to when they’ll be able to provide an even more impressive service.

People who are interested in following the project’s progression can download an app called 16th Street Mall Project. It shows the construction status for each block in real time.

Jesse Sarles