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    “Small government” at its best.


    A Grishaber

    Grand Rapids, hands down for parking nightmares.

    But if you want to talk about wasted real estate, let’s talk about SLC’s eight-lane surface streets. I do have a lot of trouble in Grand rapids, though, when I try and turn my covered wagon and four oxen around. Let alone find a place to park them!



    What a terrible idea. There is minimal parking as it is downtown and that location is certainly not big enough to support a Cabelas let alone the additional traffic it generates.


    Jay Everett

    I’ve lived in the south my entire life and Nashville has been my home for almost eight years. I’ve lived downtown for almost six of those years. I assure you I’m intimately familiar with this city.

    The State portion is the smallest of the three proposed funding sources. It’s a $174 million total for the project. The federal portion is the largest portion ($75 million) and the local portion is the second largest ($64 million). The State would be asked to chip in $35 million.

    Odd you should bring up who’s paying for what when Middle Tennessee accounts for 33% of the State’s total GDP. The mayor’s of our region who represent 1.5 million people and make up the Nashville MPO Executive Committee have ranked The Amp as our region’s #1 transportation priority for two years in a row.

    Highways do not pay for themselves. According to the Tax Foundation highways in Tennessee receive a 40% subsidy.


    Rapid Transit projects like the Amp have an extremely high return on investment. Over $5 billion was returned for the $200 million Cleveland invested in its Healthline BRT.

    So tell me again how this will be a money pit?


    C Monroe

    There are 5 hotels in downtown Grand Rapids. You mean the 3 that are owned by Amway.


    Steven Vance

    The report considered “fuel taxes, tolls, and other user taxes and fees” which includes diesel taxes. The report also used data from the Census Bureau which also combines gas & diesel taxes into the “motor fuel tax” heading.


    T.E. Shaw

    Actually, Nashville is an excellent example of how lack of alternative transport leads to greater congestion. It’s the 11th worst in the nation, and every metro area worse than Nashville has at least double the population.


    T.E. Shaw

    Funny how nobody complains when state funds are used to build new roads within a city. Especially since a BRT line would generate FAR more investment and tax revenue increases than equivalent road spending.

    Also interesting to know that Nashville MTA saw a 14% increase in ridership during 2012 and 7% increase in 2013. But let’s not a little thing like 10.5 million boardings get in the way of a wasteful, exclusively-automobile agenda.



    True multimodal transportation leaves choice up to individuals. Providing safe, clean, convenient, public transit and safe streets for bicycling is good and provides that choice. Parking adjacent to good transit is a plus for commuters to use transit locally. But why do transit oriented individuals keep trying to impose their views and choices on the rest of us?



    One would be excused for thinking, based on this comment, that Grand Rapids doesn’t have a transit system.

    In fact, not only does Grand Rapids have a transit system, but ten of the system’s 19 bus routes run within a few blocks of this location.



    That parking lot you speak of in Grand Rapids is the parking spaces for the 1,100 employees that work at the 3 main hotels downtown. Even though it is employee parking, we still even pay monthly to park there since it is a lot downtown. Where should all 1,100 workers park for work everyday? If they built an alternative parking ramp for employees, closer than what they have to walk to work now, which isn’t close, then yes, build away in that location.


    C Monroe

    I agree. Well with the outlet mall. But some still have the belief to build things like that “2 miles just outside of the town” Which only leads to more sprawl.



    You are correct with that belief :)

    Amway Hotel Corporation’s Corporation Filing for the State of Michigan (via LARA) shows Kim S. Mitchel as the contact, with the address of 7575 E. Fulton ST (Amway Global Headquarters).

    Kim Mitchel is shown as working in the legal department of Amway.


    C Monroe

    You are spot on, Amway owns it.(Amway Hotel Corp, I believe, is a division of Amway Global).



    Hello, I hail from Grand Rapids, MI. I work with data for a good share of my work, but am commenting anonymously :)

    It’s not a surprise that the prime real estate alone the river that this article identifies hasn’t been developed. Amway Global, headquartered in Ada, Michigan (right nearby GR) has made several families very very wealthy. In fact, Amway has offered them the chance to get their names on nearly all the buildings in town. Factual – whether people like it or not, etc.

    The parcel this article identified in Grand Rapids, MI, is owned by the Amway Hotel Corporation as we can see from this parcel search:

    I don’t see that land being sold to ANYONE outside of the ‘wealthy/controlling families’ of Grand Rapids. Amway Hotel Corporation is very active downtown and they’d only sell if it was a mutually beneficial relationship.

    Some facts, some musings, but I think I’m spot on.


    John C Miklos

    I’m with you, Mr. Shrout. I also think the 5 minute/quarter-mile walk expectation is absurdly low.



    Collision is not a good substitute. It comes from “collide,” and the AP restricts collide to cases where both objects are moving. Many auto crashes involve one moving and one stationary object.

    Anyway, if the driver didn’t intend to perform the particular action, then “accident” is the right word. “Intend” would mean *literally* saying, “Now let me just run this car into that wall over there …” or, “That mime is annoying me, and I think I’ll strike him with my automobile.” Driving while eating popcorn with one hand and texting with the other might be a criminal action, but it is not the same as forming those particular thoughts. It’s still an accident. You can go to prison for an accident.

    Careless and boneheaded actions do increase the chance of an accident, but accident is still the right word. The opposite of doing something by accident is doing it “on purpose.” Negligence is not “on purpose.” The fact that you do not like someone’s actions does not mean that the resulting crash was “on purpose.”

    “Crash” is a more viable substitute than collision. But, as I said, there’s no need for a change, because “accident” doesn’t imply what’s being claimed here. Look at this Massachusetts Division of Insurance page:

    It’s called “When You Are At-Fault in an Accident.” That’s common usage of the word accident. “Accident” in no way implies “blameless.”



    No, their interpretation of “infill” is to fill in every square in of land between the nothernmost and southernmost building with high-density buildings, spread out equally among the counties. In other words, equal density across the SFBay Area. We need much greater entropy in housing development, with super-high density in a few locations, and nothing more anywhere else. Discouraging transit use from outlying suburbs and instead promoting the creation of yet more megatowns in the low-density places like Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and parts of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, and other counties is wrong-headed/pro-developer. For example, those interests are responsible for turning much of the farmland in eastern Marin into “low-income housing” developments because “Marin needs to do its share.” Now this farmland is forever gone, making it even more difficult for SF residents to visit a working farm.


    david vartanoff

    “at capacity” is not quite true though close. They are short of cars so even at the height of rush hour many trains are not full length. Then, BART has never achieved the promised (pre-operation agit-prop) of 90 sec headways. The problems are both the control system and the dwell at Montgomery because the cars have too few doors. BART riders are slow to exit trains (riders still seated when the train has stopped) and the seating pattern doesn’t help either. Some plans for the next generation fleet show 3 doors and more traditional subway seating. Meanwhile someone came up with a hugely expensive plan to dig out new side platforms for exit only at Montgomery as if the problem is the area of the platform rather than either slow moving passengers and insufficient stairways.
    Fun fact; the only BART station in Contra Costa County in the top ten of ridership counts is El Cerrito Del Norte.



    “increase density on the existing concrete farms”

    Isn’t that called “infill”? Which is exactly what urbanists/SPUR/ABAG etc are advocating for.



    And those prices are why downtown San Francisco is not a parking crater.

    This contest is about places that are insanely underpriced, where space is unused and wasted. I don’t think wastefulness is ever beautiful.



    This parking lot is where the Outlet mall or Cabelas should have built.



    You obviously are not from Nashville – there is no need or reason to have the AMP – and if you knew anything at all about Nashville or the State of Tennessee you would know that Nashville is asking the entire state to pay for this project and that the proposed route is a State Hwy not just some city street.

    You should also know that existing city transit is a money pit, lacks riders and operates in the red every year since its inception.



    Fairlane Town Center, Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI, United States

    This shopping centre is so bad it was even named after a car. Every big building in the surrounds is a parking crater. It’s more like a crater super cluster.


    Jay Everett

    I’m a southerner and I don’t agree with you. This is not about some hidden agenda to eliminate cars. It’s about giving people options to make it easier to get around town. That’s called liberty. I love cars, I love driving, but I hate commuting. The car is a wonderful machine but we should have never redesigned our cities around the idea that every person would use a car for every trip. Nobody wants to sit in traffic. The car is not going to go away if we build The Amp. Nashvillians deserve a better option than just sitting in traffic. The alternatives have been studied ad nauseam, center dedicated-lane BRT is the fastest, safest, most efficient option with the highest return on investment. Forgive the pun, but the General Assembly needs to stay in their lane.



    The El Cerrito Shopping Plaza may be “shitty” by your standards, but it still manages to pull a shit ton of sales tax dollars out of Berkeley.



    Trees and farmland? In El Cerrito? What the…?



    El Cerrito a disaster? Comared to what, Davis?

    El Cerrito is more bikable than most of San Francisco.



    BART is already at capacity during rush hour. They literally wouldn’t be able to handle higher ridership than they currently have.


    Kevin Love

    Because they want a government that is so small that it can just fit into your bedroom.


    david vartanoff

    Has to be less than 720′ because BART platforms are sized for 10 cars A’s are 75′, B’s, C’ 70′ giving 710′. note the platforms overhang both Central and Fairmount
    here’s google


    Len Conly

    Thanks. Can you tell how long the BART bus platform is? It seems a long walk from the north end of the platform (where the 72 bus stops) to Fairmont Ave.


    Len Conly

    Why doesn’t BART charge the going rate for parking in their lots? If the lot is filled at $2/day, raise the rate until there are vacant spaces left.


    Anthony Slater

    The convention center in Grand Rapids was built without a parking lot and adjacent to none. Underground parking was built beneath the building.


    Anthony Slater

    In Grand Rapids, the parking lot predates the arena. The arena did come with its fair share of parking lots, but those are being developed now.



    The area in Portland is slated to become a hotel and a public market that is breaking ground in 2016: market



    Positive impacts to pocketbook and very often to diet as well. Sounds like a winner.


    C Monroe

    The thing about the Grand Rapids parking crater is that there are plenty of pedestrian traffic to the north, west and east of this, but it just completely dies like a ghost town past these three parking lots and a restaurant(right next to the highway on the river). Also there are other large development along the highway including a residential tower(tallest bldg. in Grand Rapids) exactly a half mile north of this that is fronted by two freeways(131 and 196). The freeway has development along it, with the local university on the opposite side and north of the crater(which has added more buildings than in this outdated picture) and redeveloped older warehouses now lofts south of this picture. So the highway is not really that much of a deterrent.


    Karen Lynn Allen

    I think it’s even more important to consider that what people gain from moderate levels of exercise is also more years of quality life. From the NY Times, a study shows that people who are fit in their fifties not only live somewhat longer than those who are not, but they have significant delay of onset of chronic (and expensive) health problems. Basically if you are fit in your fifties, you get 5, 10, or even 15 extra high quality/good health years that people who are not fit in their 50′s don’t get.

    “What they found was that those adults who had been the least fit at the time of their middle-age checkup also were the most likely to have developed any of eight serious or chronic conditions early in the aging process. These include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and colon or lung cancer.

    “The adults who’d been the most fit in their 40s and 50s often developed many of the same conditions, but notably their maladies appeared significantly later in life than for the less fit. Typically, the most aerobically fit people lived with chronic illnesses in the final five years of their lives, instead of the final 10, 15 or even 20 years.”

    I would guess the cost of having the vast majority of the US population grind through 10, 15 or 20 years of very poor health (doctor’s visits, medications, hospitalizations, convalescent care, etc.) is vastly higher (perhaps 100x?) than the cost of early deaths associated with lack of fitness.



    Southerners are more practical and thus have no patience for traffic-clogging stupidity advocated by streetsblogers, whose agenda is obviously to do away with the private automobile little at a time. Nobody wants to stand outside waiting for a bus in the sunbelt because its very very hot in the summer.



    Of course you can always build parking underground or in neighboring garages. While its more sightly, its also a LOT more expensive to build like this. Hence parking garages are only found in areas where land is at a premium. If expo centers are built in places where land is cheap, like Salt Lake City, parking will consist of surface lots because that is all the economics can justify, Europe and Asia however are the opposite.



    Cafe Unknown, a great blog about Portland history has a whole post about this Portland site and what was lost:

    Two items to share about the Portland site…

    How much worse it looked in the 1960s:

    And to add insult to injury, right in the heart of this very location is this longtime giant billboard for a car dealership has two married cars and says “for the love of cars”



    This is why sunbelt cities will always be at a disadvantage. Keep it up Tennessee… Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis thank you!





    When BART opened in the early 1970s, Richmond was still served by a transbay bus route. The del Norte station as seen as one that served not only El Cerrito, but commuters on I-80 who’d otherwise travel across the Bridge – most specifically those in Pinole/El Sobrante.

    Sadly, the Richmond station location was always problematic. Located in a low-income neighborhood, more prone to crime, it had less use. There simply was nothing around it. By the time BART opened, downtown Richmond was one mall (Hilltop) away from being a ghost town. Businesses had already pretty much abandoned most of Richmond.



    But there are many parks and, along the BART tracks, a wonderful bike/walk trail… If memory serves, you won’t find nearly as many near BART around Hayward/Union City/Fremont or Walnut Creek/Concord. If you’re truly concerned about parking craters, head out to those parts of the Bay Area. El Cerrito is far better served by transit options than Central Contra Costa county and is far friendlier to those who prefer two feet or two wheels.



    You have to take into context that El Cerrito Plaza is as old as I am – we’ll both be 56 this year. In fact, I remember when Hilltop Mall opened. (It was the final nail in the coffin for downtown Richmond.) At the time, it was the standard.

    Again, having spent much of the first three decades of my life around El Cerrito Plaza, I never found it inconvenient. If I’d driven, I found it far more comfortable than the vast Hilltop Mall, where I always had to take care to remember exactly where I parked my car. At the same time, I often preferred to ride my bike from home – first, in Richmond; later, close to the del Norte BART station – made easy by the wonderful bike path which was created along the BART tracks when they were built.



    Salt Lake wins because the TRAX light rail runs along the south side of this giant parking crater (only one of many that litter downtown and environs), and many transit buses serve the area – as well as an increasing number of bike lanes thanks to a supportive Mayor. If sports tickets at the ToxBox (Energy Solutions Arena) served as a round-trip transit pass like those at the U of Utah now do, it would really help get more people to ride – that said TRAX is heavily used for events already. Big, convenient parking lots like this don’t help discourage driving. Given the serious air quality issues in Utah, Salt Lake gets not only the win but bonus points for an oversupply of “cheap” and “free” parking downtown.



    Actually, El Cerrito Plaza’s current state serves as a warning about the dangers of utopianism. Prince Charles and his institute came in and produced a utopian, unbuildable plan for rebuilding the shopping center. The city government became so panicked that nothing would get built that it wound up approving a more autocentric plan than the pre-existing plan. They created a center where people drive from one part to another, which hadn’t been done before. Not there aren’t plenty of other horrorshows throughout the BART system, like Serramonte Shopping Center in San Bruno.


    John Bailo

    Driverless vehicles could start as very local “shuttles” to get people and goods back and forth from places like Costco. They could be limited to 35 mph. They can also drop people off at transit stations meaning, that we can build fewer of them, further apart and mostly fast rail.