Yesterday was not a good time to tour downtown. As city officials jumped in pedicabs to check out the newly refurbished 14th Street, which runs along the edge of downtown starting at Market Street, quite a welcoming committee was waiting at the other end of what's also oddly dubbed "Ambassador Street:" Occupy Denver protesters, who were blocking Broadway at Colfax.
Fortunately for Denver's ambassadors, the official opening ceremonies for 14th Street focused on the stretch leading to the convention center and the Big Blue Bear, which includes fancy hotels and the Denver Performing Arts complex -- and stopped well short of the Occupy Denver roadblock, which jammed traffic for an hour.
Mayor Michael Hancock and Downtown Denver Partnership president Tami Door were in the lead pedicab -- which failed to break through the blue ribbon that stretched across the street. "Today we celebrate the completion of the Ambassador Street, which anchors our downtown area," Hancock proclaimed, bouncing back from that slight obstacle. "14th Street is a world-class roadway that not only promotes our city's beauty, but also shows how important multi-modal transportation is to us."
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Multi-modal, including pedicabs?
Among the other officials on hand were new Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks and manager of public works George Delaney, who oversaw the implementation of the Better Denver bond projects that voters approved in 2007. This particular project cost $14 million, with $10 million coming from Better Bonds and $4 million from nearby businesses, and included not just expanded sidewalks but a dedicated bicycle lane, bike racks, improved lighting, "way-finding monuments" designed to advise tourists, trees, kiosks, benches and too-low planters that are sure to trip some of those pedestrians looking over the glories of Ambassador Street rather than watching their feet.
Welcome to Denver!
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